The Media and Sleep

Girl sleeping with the TV remoteFrom a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation we learn that recent research among adolescents regarding sleep has found results similar to those for younger children.

A 2007 study of U.S. adolescents found that television viewing and computer use were each related to later bedtimes and less overall sleep, a result similar to that of a Dutch study. A report from the Kaiser Family Foundation says, “this research also showed that unlike other disruptions of sleep, the reduction in sleep associated with media use was not compensated for by greater sleep on the weekends. Rather, the media-induced sleep reductions represented a true loss in total sleep time, and the media use was associated with significantly higher levels of self-reported overall tiredness.”

The best study on adolescents was conducted with 759 young people with average ages 14, 16, and 22. This study found that the amount of television viewing at age 14 was associated with trouble falling asleep as well as with the number of sleep problems experienced at age 16 or at age 22.

The study also found that reductions in television viewing between 14 and 16 years of age were associated with fewer sleep problems at age 16 or 22 years. Interestingly, the study found no effect on sleep problems at the earlier times with TV viewing at the later times.

This research presents the strongest evidence of any published study so far, that television viewing is causally related to sleep problems. In particular, as the authors note, these findings “…suggest that extensive television viewing during adolescence may be associated with the development of frequent sleep problems among youth who have not previously had frequent sleep problems.”