For better sleep, SHUT those gadgets!

Cell-Phone-Use-Many parents, educators, and physicians are concerned about the sleep patterns of teenagers. In previous articles, I have cited the recommendation of the Center for Disease Control that teens sleep at least nine hours to function at an optimal level. When I canvass my students, I find that their average nightly sleep reflects the troubling pattern of between six to seven hours.  School districts are beginning to respond to the call  to alter the daily class schedule and avoid early morning class times.  Districts that have initiated later starting times report positive results: fewer fatigued students, fewer auto accidents, and higher SAT scores.  In fact, Guilford is in the forefront of Shoreline towns that will establish later school starting times in the near future.

However, despite the best efforts of adults, teens are ultimatelly reponsbile for their personal well-being.  Later class times should not be an invitation to stay up engaged with their electronic gadgets. A recent study from Norway reveals the detrimental effects of having a smart phone or tablet on the night table.  The results, as reported by NBC, indicate that the screens emit a light that may affect sleep hormone production.  Communicating online at bedtime also contributes to less sleep time.

The study followed 10,000 boys and girls from ages 16-19.  Those who had four or more hours of daytime “screen time” had an almost 50% higher risk of taking more than an hour to fall asleep. Teens who engaged with their gadgets for at least two hours after school experienced more tossing and turning and shorter sleep time as well. Furthermore, teens who used two or three devices each day slept five or fewer hours each night.

The results clearly indicate that teens need to reduce their screen time to achieve restorative sleep.  So, limit the gadget time.  Shut off those phones, tablets, and computers. Make the bedroom a “no phone zone,” and go to sleep!

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