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Smartphones in bed: Overuse is costing sleep deprivation, study shows

27 October 2017 12:08 PM
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Smartphones in bed: Overuse is costing sleep deprivation, study shows

PARENTS’ growing addiction to smartphone use in bed has become nearly as bad as that of their teenagers with new Australian research showing the habit is taking a major toll on their sleep.

The use of electronic devices by adults after they turn the lights out in bed is causing them to get less shuteye, poor quality rest and resulting in later sleep-ins.

A new study of over 1200 adults — with a median age of 54 — showed 42 per cent use an electronic device such as a phone or iPad in bed after switching off the lights.

Even adults aged in their 70s and 80s reported using the devices when they should be asleep.

The research by Central Queensland University’s Dr Michele Lastella found when people used their phone for over 60 minutes after they turned off their bedroom lights they fell asleep significantly later than those who did not.

Even people who scroll through social media for just half an hour are losing sleep.

“Typically we associate turning lights off with it being time to go to sleep but these days turning off the light means time to play on your phone or look at social media,” Dr Lastella said.

“It’s bad to look at devices in bed in general but after lights out the blue light from the electronic device restricts melatonin, the main sleep hormone, from peaking which delays sleep onset which can restrict how much sleep we get and the quality.”

Subjects who used phones for more than an hour went to bed between midnight and 12.30am. Those who didn’t fell asleep about two hours earlier.

People who went screen-free after dark were able to wake up at 6am on weekdays and 7am on weekends and had higher quality sleep than those who used the devices.

“People who don’t use devices rated their sleep as fairly good while people who use their phone for more than 60 minutes rated it as average,” Dr Lastella said.

The research was presented at the Sleep DownUnder 2017 seminar which finishes today.


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