Not getting enough sleep? Turn off the technology

NEW YORK Mon Mar 7, 2011 12:55am EST

Guests sit on automobile shaped beds as they play a game on the Sony Playstation 3 at a party held by Sony Computer Entertainment America celebrating the new Playstation 3 game console in Beverly Hills November 8, 2006. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

Guests sit on automobile shaped beds as they play a game on the Sony Playstation 3 at a party held by Sony Computer Entertainment America celebrating the new Playstation 3 game console in Beverly Hills November 8, 2006.

Credit: Reuters/Fred Prouser

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dependence on televisions, cellphones and laptops may be costing Americans dearly -- in lack of sleep.

The national penchant for watching television every evening before going to sleep, playing video games late into the night or checking emails and text messages before turning off the lights could be interfering with the nation's sleep habits.

"Unfortunately, cell phones and computers, which make our lives more productive and enjoyable, may be abused to the point that they contribute to getting less sleep at night leaving millions of Americans functioning poorly the next day," Russell Rosenberg, the vice chairman of the Washington DC-based National Sleep Foundation (NSF), said in a statement.

Nearly 95 percent of people questioned in an NSF study said they used some type of electronics in the hour before going to bed, and about two-thirds admitted they do not get enough sleep during the week.

Charles Czeisler, of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, said exposure to artificial light before going to bed can increase alertness and suppress the release of melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone.

"Technology has invaded the bedroom," Czeisler explained in an interview. "Invasion of such alerting technologies into the bedroom may contribute to the high proportion of respondents who reported they routinely get less sleep than they need."

Baby boomers, or people aged 46-64 years old, were the biggest offenders of watching television every night before going to sleep, while more than a third of 13-18 year-olds and 28 percent of young adults 19-29 year olds played video games before bedtime.

Sixty one percent also said they used their computer or laptop at least a few nights each week.

And a propensity to stay in touch means that even people who have managed to fall asleep, are being woken up by cellphones, texts and emails during the night.

"One in 10 kids report they are being awoken by texts after they have gone to bed. People don't turn off their Blackberries," said Czeisler, adding that much of this is happening at the expense of sleep.

Generation Z'ers, 13-18 year olds, were the most sleep-deprived group, with 22 percent describing themselves as "sleepy," compared to only nine percent of baby boomers.

Sleep experts recommend that teenagers get 9 hours and 15 minutes of sleep a night but adolescents in the study were only averaging 7 hours and 26 minutes on weeknights.

"I am the most concerned about how little sleep 13-18 years are getting," said Czeisler. "Kids today are getting an hour and a half to two hours less sleep per night than they did a century ago. That means that they are losing about 50 hours of sleep per month," said Czeisler.

Americans' lack of sleep is negatively impacting their work, mood, family, driving habits, sex lives and health, according to the NSF.

All age groups are coping by consuming caffeinated drinks -- about three 12-ounce (354 ml) beverages per person -- per day, and taking naps, sometimes more than one during the day.

"Parents should get these technologies out of the bedrooms of kids if they want them to do well (in school)," said Czeisler.

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Comments (6)
lhathaway wrote:
For goodness sake don’t ask Americans to change their behaviors. Just take a pill and go right ahead. Maybe they can start giving out melatonin with the gadgets. Got to keep that heath care industry and the technology booming.

Mar 07, 2011 8:08am EST  --  Report as abuse
MarkSThomas wrote:
This is so hard to do. Especially for a geek.

Mar 07, 2011 9:12am EST  --  Report as abuse
vksaini wrote:
Let us not blame technology or any industry but ourself. Why fail in its proper,limited & essential use with full comfort level of body and mind? The addiction or outstretching our reach to television or other gadgets beyond certain time table impairs the natural balance, as our body needs regular rest in the form of deep sleep, for its proper maintenance to ward off the bad effects of daily strain on our body. So let us be the drivers on the seat of technology & not the other way round…… the only solution!

Mar 07, 2011 10:47am EST  --  Report as abuse
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