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Study Shows Link between Teen Smartphone Use and Insomnia, Daytime Sleepiness and Poor School Performance  

Researchers at Seton Hall's School of Health and Medical Sciences and the JFK Neuroscience Institute in Edison, NJ have found a link between bedtime smartphone use by middle and high school students and insomnia, daytime sleepiness and poor school performance.

The study, conducted in collaboration with the Edison Public School Board, looked at smartphone use -text, internet, games and social media such as Facebook and Twitter- and found that nearly 62 percent of students used their smartphones in some capacity after bedtime: 56.7 percent texted, tweeted or messaged in bed, and 20.8 percent awoke to texts.

The paper, "The Impact of Sleep Time-Related Information and Communication Technology (STRICT) on sleep patterns and daytime functioning in American adolescents", is published in the October, 2015 edition of the Journal of Adolescence.

Dr. Vincent DeBari"Our study confirms that many teenagers are texting late at night when they should be sleeping. This behavior is more common among older teenagers, especially those in high school, and among girls," said co-author, Dr. Vincent DeBari, Professor of Medicine and Director of Research at Seton Hall University School of Health and Medical Sciences. "One of the most worrisome aspects of our findings is that in addition to affecting the quality and amount of sleep teenagers are getting, bedtime smartphone use seems to be having a negative impact on their level of alertness during the day and on their grades in school."

The study looked at pre- and post-bedtime smartphone use among middle and high school students from Edison. In all, data from 3,139 student respondents were analyzed. The paper notes that previous research has shown that three-quarters of Americans between the ages of 12 and 17 years now own a mobile phone, almost half of which are smartphones; American teens send or receive an average of 1,500 texts per month; and nearly 85 percent of adolescents sleep with their phone in or near their bed.

Dr. Peter Polos"Teenagers who text at night have their sleep disrupted by incoming texts, and then may feel an overwhelming compulsion to respond to those texts immediately, which can go on for hours," said lead author Dr. Peter Polos, Clinical Associate Professor, Dept. of Neuroscience, Seton Hall University School of Health and Medical Sciences and Attending Staff at the Sleep Medicine Division of the JFK Neuroscience Institute. "This leads to excessive stimulation at night. Light from electronic devices can suppress the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep. All of these factors combine to make sleep difficult in the face of excessive smartphone use at night."

In addition to a correlation to insomnia, daytime sleepiness and poor academic performance, the paper also notes that smartphone use just before or after bedtime, which the authors refer to as Sleep Time-Related Information and Communication Technology or "STRICT," may worsen the natural tendency of teenagers to go to bed much later and sleep until late morning, a condition known as "delayed sleep phase syndrome," which has been linked to depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Dr. Sushanth Bhat, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Neuroscience, at Seton Hall University School of Health and Medical Sciences, and an Assistant Attending Physician at JFK Medical Center, concluded, "Repeatedly, studies have shown that today's adolescent students are seriously sleep deprived, and that it affects their health, their mood and their safety behind the wheel. Our study shows that the unrestricted use of smartphones at night may be a major contributing factor. Since getting the proper amount of sleep is very important for brain development and learning in the teenage years, our study should prompt parents and guardians to consider placing reasonable limitations on adolescent smartphone usage at night."

The paper, " The Impact of Sleep Time-Related Information and Communication Technology (STRICT) on sleep patterns and daytime functioning in American adolescents," is available here »

The School of Health and Medical Sciences combines the expertise of Seton Hall University with the resources of affiliate hospitals and clinical sites to provide exemplary academic and clinical education in two distinct divisions. The Division of Health Sciences' fully accredited degree programs include professional graduate education programs in Athletic Training, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Physician Assistant and Speech-Language Pathology; the Master of Healthcare Administration program, offered in both online and on-campus formats; and the post-professional PhD in Health Sciences program. The Division of Medical Residencies and Fellowships offers educational opportunities for post-medical school physicians in specialty areas, such as internal medicine, neurology, orthopaedic surgery, podiatric medicine, psychiatry and sleep medicine at several regional hospitals. In response to society's rapidly changing healthcare needs, the School's emphasis on interprofessional education prepares healthcare leaders of tomorrow to focus on patient-centered care and to make a difference in patients' lives and their communities. Learn more click here »

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