Teen social media addicts more likely to suffer sleep deprivation

Sleep deprived teens are spending too much time on social media
Sleep deprived teens are spending too much time on social media

Teens addicted to Snapchat, Instagram and Whatsapp are more likely to be sleep deprived, a new study found.

Two thirds of those aged 11 to 20 were not getting the recommended amount of shut eye and nearly three quarters are on social media for at least an hour a day.

And the more a teen was on the sites, the less sleep they got. It found odds ratios for getting insufficient sleep ranged from 1.82 for using social media at least an hour a day to 2.98 for at least five hours a day.

And just one hour was enough to cause them to get less sleep than they should. The study found teenage girls were the most addicted to social media and were therefore more likely to be sleep deprived, but it affects boys just the same.

Canadian researchers said the findings were important as social media has grown rapidly, children and teenagers are more likely to use the new technology and develop and consolidate bad habits which they carry on as adults. Previous studies found poor sleep has been linked to poor academic performance, and those most likely to be sleep deprived were older teens, boys, those who did less exercise or had poor mental health.

US and Canadian guidelines said those aged six to 13 should get between nine and and 11 hours a night, those aged 14 to 17 eight to ten hours and those at over 18 at least seven to nine hours to maximise overall health and well-being.

The NHS said those aged six should get 10-and-three-quarters hours sleep a night, those aged nine ten hours, those aged 11 nine-and-a half hours and those aged 14 to 16 nine hours.

Insufficient sleep ‘widespread among adolescents’ Senior author Dr Jean-Philippe Chaput of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute explained: “Sleep is an essential component of healthy development and an important contributor to physical health and mental health.

“However, insufficient sleep has become widespread among adolescents over the last few decades.

“Insufficient sleep among adolescents has often been attributed to factors such as artificial light, caffeine use, no bedtime rules in the household and the increased availability of information and communication technology.”

So the study examined the association between social media use and sleep patterns in 5,242 Canadian pupils aged 11 to 20 taking part in the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey.

This is a province-wide, school-based survey that has been conducted every two years since 1977. Boys made up 51.4 per cent and 59.6 per cent get too little sleep while girls made up 48.6 per cent and 67.9 per cent had insufficient sleep.

Overall 73.4 per cent reported they used social media for at least one hour per day. Dr Chaput added: “We observed that social media use was associated with greater odds of short sleep duration in a dose-response manner.

“Importantly, significant associations were found when social media use exceeded one hour per day, suggesting that even this level of social media may be negatively associated with sleep duration.

“Although females spent significantly more time using social media than males, the relationship between the use of social media and sleep duration did not differ by sex.

“The impact social media can have on sleep patterns is a topic of great interest given the well-known adverse effects of sleep deprivation on health. “Electronic screen devices are pervasive in today’s society and we are just starting to understand their risks and benefits.”

The study was published in the journal Acta Paediatrica.