More adolescents are spending their time on their phones, causing them to sleep less as compared to their early 2000s counterparts, research says.
According to the Sleep Medicine Journal, time spent on sleep by teenagers reduced between 2011 and 2013, when electronic media and devices use increased.
“New media screen time (electronic device use, social media, and reading news online) increased over this period and was associated with increased odds of short sleep duration, with a clear exposure-response relationship for electronic devices after two or more hours a day of use,” the journal states.
It added that the time spent on activities traditionally connected to short-sleep duration such as watching TV and doing homework were relatively stable or decreased over the years, meaning that they are an unlikely cause of the sudden increase in short sleep duration.
Although the study focused on American teens, the same can be said of their Kenyan counterparts. According to a 2012 UNICEF Report, the availability of cheap and well-enabled mobile phones have influenced how young Kenyans seek information and make new connections.
The negative impact of less sleep both in adults and teens has been documented. Not only does technology make it harder for individuals to go to sleep, it also reduces the quality of sleep and makes individuals feel sleepy the following day.
In teenagers, the situation is worse as they need more sleep, usually between 8-10hours, according to sleep experts. Lack of sleep has also been linked to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
Some of the recommendations for dealing with short sleep caused by technology include dimming the screen on devices and restricting technology use.
The Sleep Medicine Journal calls for public health interventions to include electronic device us as a way to improve adolescent health.
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