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Sleep Deprived Nation: Addicted to Gadgets, Study Says

Sleep deprivation and technology use

Two ways that technology disrupts sleep

A study by the National Sleep Foundation says that 95 percent of us engaged with some form of technology in the hour before bedtime.

Almost all of us watch TV, text, go online, or play video games when we should be winding down for sleep.

People age 46-64 were the most likely to watch TV every night, and about one third of people age 13-29 play video games before bed. One in 10 kids reports being woken up by texts throughout the night.

60 percent of us are on our laptops before bed.

The obvious way that sleep and gadgets are at odds: technology has an addicting quality — we can’t help ourselves but watch one more episode of Jon Stewart or jump from site to site in search of the perfect end table or an answer to the Skuut vs. training wheels dilemma.

But that’s not the only problem. Here’s the biological explanation for why technology cuts into sleep:

Being on the computer, texting, and watching TV at close range all expose us to artificial light — that triggers our body’s hormones to keep us alert and it suppresses the production of the sleep-inducing chemical melatonin.

So even if you go to bed early enough, you may find yourself lying there awake because your body’s hormones have been amped up — you think it’s time for sleep, but your circadian rhythm thinks it’s time for action.

And the younger you are, the more sleep deprived you may be, according to the study. The young adolescents were the most likely to report being drowsy and sleepless. These kids are supposed to get 9 hours and 15 minutes a night but most reported 7.5.

In my practice I see lots of parents who struggle with sleep — with little early-risers in the house, we have to go to bed early to get our eight hours (especially if sleep is broken up by late-night calls from the other room). Ironically, most parents think of their TV and web surfing as winding down time — but chemically, it’s the opposite.

Does your family get enough sleep? And do you find it hard to disconnect from work, Facebook, or TV at night and wind down for bed?

Image: flickr

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