In a recent survey, teens reported that they spend an average of 7.5 hours a day on their phones. In fact, the average teen spends more than 3 hours a day on their phones. These numbers have been steadily rising in the past few years. This has led to a surge in the number of kids suffering from insomnia, and it is becoming more and more common for teens to be experiencing sleep disorders. In this post, we examine screen time and insomnia and how this can affect teens and their sleep. We also provide a list of tips to help you keep your teens healthy.
Effects of Excess Screen Time on Sleep
The following are the consequences of too much screen time:
The amount of screen time you clock has a direct impact on how much sleep you get because the blue light emitted from digital screens interferes with the production of the sleep hormone melatonin in your body. It’s much harder for you to fall asleep when you use digital devices right before bed.
- Susceptibility to chronic health conditions
You are more vulnerable to chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer because of your increased risk of being obese. Scientific research shows that spending long hours sitting when using digital devices can cause a spike in blood sugar levels and lead to an increase in fat in your bloodstream. It is possible to avoid these problems by spending less time on screens and more time being physically active.
- Physical strain on your eyes and body
It takes a toll on your body and eyes when you stare at a screen for long periods of time. The effects of excessive screen time on your eyes are not limited to straining your eyes and leaving you feeling dry. Inflammation and pain in the neck and shoulder can be caused by being constantly hunched over, as well as how many people tend to do with their phones.
- Increased risk of obesity
You are depriving yourself of valuable time and your health by using your digital devices instead of being physically active. If you snack a lot while watching TV, this contributes to increased weight gain. Many of us are tempted to eat more unhealthily because of the many fast-food commercials on TV. It is possible to increase the risk of becoming obese by simply watching two more hours of TV each day.
- Impaired socializing skills
The activity of using digital devices is mostly solitary. We don’t have a lot of real-life interactions when we are focused on a screen. Increasing anti-social tendencies and feelings of withdrawal could result from this. When children spend time on digital devices instead of playing with their friends, this precious opportunity to develop important social skills is lost.
- Loss of cognitive ability
One of the scariest consequences of excessive screen time is the effect on mental health. The grey matter that is responsible for cognitive processes to shrink and the white matter that serves as the network to the brain’s signal communication is affected by too much screen time. Weak impulse control, poor concentration, weak memory, and slower information processing are some of the symptoms of this. When it comes to children’s brains, these effects are particularly worrying.
- Lower self-esteem
Spending too much time in the virtual world of screens can have a negative impact on your perception of yourself. A weakened sense of self-identity and confidence is caused by the time you lose that could have been spent on forming relationships with other people, discovering and honing your passions, and creating new experiences. This problem is worsened when you spend most of your time on social media sites because you may end up worrying more about your virtual self-image than your real one. Children and youth are particularly concerned about the dangers of cyberbullying and self-image issues.
- Weakened emotional judgment
Your ability to register and process emotions is affected by how much screen time you get. Dehydration to violent content is a worrying side effect of the weakened emotional judgment. Scientific research shows that exposure to violent media content can increase aggression levels in children and adolescents.
- Delayed learning in young children
When it comes to young children, excessive screen time can have a negative impact on their learning abilities. Children who watch a lot of television have a harder time picking up languages. The delay in learning can be as much as 50% higher if you watch TV for 30 minutes. Allowing children to watch educational programs may not be the best way to teach them. Allowing young children to watch shows hinders their brains from being active and engaged, either by physically exploring or by allowing them to watch shows. One of the most worrying consequences of excessive screen usage is how it causes your brain to become addicted to it. Digital devices are addictive, and the rush we get from their use triggers our brains to release pleasurable neurotransmitters, which make us want to use them more. Many of us find ourselves trapped in a cycle of screen addiction because of this.
How Screen Time and Digital Technology Will Cause Insomnia
The correlation between screen time and insomnia symptoms is directly proportional to each other. Poor sleep quality can be attributed to the delay of melatonin release. It’s possible to cause drowsiness the following day when it’s delayed. There is a strict schedule for teenagers because of school and other activities. It becomes difficult for them to concentrate when the performance goes down.
Teenagers who sleep late and try to catch up during the weekends have a problem with their circadian rhythm. According to sleep science experts, young adults have extra-sensitive eyes because of their ability to absorb blue light. It is more important for children and adolescents to reduce their screen time.
Diet and sleep schedules are affected by the amount of screen time. The body is more alert to its surroundings when watching something violent or frightening. Sleep deprivation can be caused by running a TV in the background and using a phone directly. It’s known as passive technology and is harmful as well. There’s a debate among professionals about whether screen time causes insomnia or if it leads to screen time. It is possible to say that more screen time, negative emotions, and less sleep cause unhealthy behaviors. There are factors that are linked to depression. A study shows that anxiety and depression are connected to the excessive use of mobile devices.
Tips to Control Screen Time Before Bed
The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend a specific amount of screen time for teens because they need to use screens for academic and social obligations. They want parents to create their own media plans for their families.
Family social media plans should include clear limits on screen time, and allocate time for other activities, such as sleep, family time, schoolwork, and exercise. When teens are given the chance to create their own guidelines, it’s a good idea to sit down and make a screen time plan together. As part of the mission to improve your teenager’s screen use habits and sleeping environment, you should:
- Encourage your teen to reduce screen use when possible and agree on a screen curfew.
- Limit the amount of screen time for educational and leisure purposes.
- Out of the teen’s bedroom is the best place to charge the phones.
- Discuss the consequences of sleep deprivation and tell your teen that less screen time will give them more time for socializing, family time, homework, sports, and extracurricular activities.
- Keeping in mind that teens need eight to ten hours of sleep, choose a time that is appropriate for your age.
- Replacing screen use with activities such as reading or chatting will create a calming nighttime routine.
- It is recommended to keep the bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.
- Let your teen know you are listening. Don’t wait for them to bring up their issues or worry about how to solve them, initiate these conversations by yourself.
- Talk to your teen about how to use the internet safely, and be aware of their technology use.
- Dim screens, choose night modes, and switch to warm household lighting in the lead-up to sleep.
The bedroom is supposed to be a screen-free zone. The brain is able to wind down when the bedroom is served for sleep. Sometimes, it is not possible to keep technology out of the bedroom. If your teen uses technology in the bedroom, it is a good idea to turn off their devices an hour before bed. Teenagers’ sleep can be disrupted by blue light, which is why glasses or applications designed to filter out blue light are important. To encourage teenagers to adopt healthy screen habits, parents should limit their own screen use.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than two hours of screen time per day for children ages 2-5 years old. For children ages 6-17 years old, they recommend no more than one hour of screen time per day.
Night owls are people who have a hard time going to sleep and sleeping in the morning. Morning larks are people who are very active during the day but go to sleep early at night.
Insomnia is when you have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. It’s a common problem for teens.
When you’re watching TV, using a computer, or playing games on your phone, you’re using your brain more than you’re sleeping. This can lead to problems with sleep.
In the last few years, the amount of time teens spend on screens has increased dramatically. With more screen time comes less sleep, which can lead to insomnia. As a result, many teens are experiencing problems with concentration and focus. These issues can negatively impact teens’ school performance and their ability to function in the real world. Hence, fixing this problem should be a priority for parents.
If you want to know more about different sleep related disorder check out here.