The national penchant for watching television every evening before going to sleep, playing video games late into the night or checking emails and texts before turning off the lights could be interfering with the nation’s sleep habits.
“Unfortunately, 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 National Sleep Foundation (NSF), said in a statement.
Nearly 95% 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.
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% of young adults 19-29 year olds played video games before bedtime.
Some 61% also said they used their computer or laptop at least a few nights each week.
Sleep experts recommend that teenagers get nine 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.