Mobile Devices Distract Adolescents From Negative Thoughts Before Sleep
Summary: Controlled nighttime use of social media and apps may help ease teenagers’ negative thoughts before they fall asleep, a new study reports.
Source: Flinders University
Excessive use of mobile devices gets a bad rap, but one advantage may be their ability to create a distraction and positively affect teenagers’ ability to sleep, new research from Flinders University shows.
Feedback from more than 600 teenagers aged 12 to 18 in South Australian schools between June and September 2019 has led the international research group to show a more nuanced view of the use of a wide range of mobile content – of led by Youtube, music apps, Instagram and Snapchat – before young people go to bed.
“Many teenagers struggle with a quick mind when sleep is not easy,” says lead corresponding author Dr Serena Bauducco, a postdoctoral researcher at Örebro University, Sweden.
“This study shows that many teenagers use technology to distract themselves from negative thoughts, which can help them manage the sleep onset process. Thus, distraction may be a mechanism that explains how sleep affects technology use and not the other way around,” the study concludes.
Most of the 631 teenagers surveyed used technology as a distraction from negative or worrying thoughts, with 23.6% answering “yes” and 38.4% “sometimes,” according to the study published in the journal Sleep Advances (Oxford Academic).
However, the study found a higher trend of app use among youth with existing sleep problems compared to those who did not report a sleep problem, leading the researchers to warn that other solutions are needed to help teens fall asleep. sleep
Passive entertainment, through music apps or YouTube videos, or interacting with peers via Instagram or Snapchat were considered the most popular distractions.
The first author of the study, a graduate in psychology at Flinders University, Ms. Alexandra Daniels, says the complex relationship between sleep and technology is illustrated by a tendency for some teenagers with sleep problems to use devices more often before bed.
“This study helps to provide evidence to suggest that the relationship between adolescents, technology and sleep is much more complex than the previously accepted idea that using technology before bedtime is always negative and harmful,” she says.
However, the study found a higher trend of app use among youth with existing sleep problems compared to those who did not report a sleep problem, leading the researchers to warn that other solutions are needed to help teens fall asleep. sleep The image is in the public domain
South Australian child and adolescent sleep expert Professor Michael Gradisar, who conceived the idea behind the study, says the research suggests recommendations for focused use of certain apps could become an integral part of some teenagers’ sleep routines, for help them regulate their negative thoughts. .
Flinders University sleep psychology graduate Professor Gradisar, who now focuses on a range of technologies as Head of Sleep Science at Sleep Cycle Sweden, says good sleep habits from infancy to adolescence are important for established healthy sleep routines into adulthood.
Respondents in the study were asked which app was most likely to distract them from any negative or distressing thoughts – from texting, phone calls, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Youtube, Reddit, Tumblr and Spotify/iTunes/Apple Music, Netflix/ Stan, Viber/WhatsApp, gaming app, audiobook or ‘other’.
Participants reported multiple technology preferences including mobile phone, iPad, laptop, desktop computer, iPod/MP3 player, television, game console or ‘other’.
Researchers note the recent rise in popularity of TikTok and other apps in a rapidly changing field.
A previous study in Sleep Medicine by Flinders University researchers linked the use of phones, laptops and game consoles by high school students in the hour before bed, or in bed before bedtime, was associated with increased likelihood of falling asleep. insufficient on school nights.
“Technology use in the evening needs to be monitored for potential limits and harm minimization because technology will remain an integral part of teenage evenings,” they conclude.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that teens ages 14-17 get 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night.
About this news about neurodevelopment and sleep research
Author: Tania Bawden
Source: Flinders University
Contact: Tania Bawden – Flinders University
Image: Image is in the public domain
Original Research: Open Access.
“Using technology as a sleep-initiation aid: do teenagers use apps to distract themselves from negative thoughts?” by Serena Bauducco et al. SLEEP Advances
Using technology as a sleep-initiation aid: do teenagers use apps to distract themselves from negative thoughts?
Objectives of the study
The purpose of this study was that; (1) explore whether adolescents use technology as a distraction from negative thoughts before sleep, (2) assess whether adolescents who perceive themselves to have sleep problems use technology as a distraction more compared to adolescents without sleep complaints, and (3) gather information qualitatively which devices and applications teenagers use as distractions.
This study used a mixed-methods cross-over design in which 684 adolescents (M = 15.1, SD = 1.2, 46% female) answered quantitative and qualitative questions about their sleep (perceived sleep problem, onset time of sleep (SOT) and sleep onset latency [SOL]) and using technology as a distraction from negative thoughts.
Most teenagers answered “yes” or “sometimes” using technology as a distraction from negative thoughts (23.6% and 38.4%). Adolescents who answered “yes” to using technology as a distraction were more likely to report having trouble sleeping, longer SOL, and later SOT compared to adolescents who answered “no.” The most popular device to distract was the phone, due to its availability, and the most common apps used for distraction included YouTube, Snapchat and music apps.
This study shows that many teenagers use technology to distract themselves from negative thoughts, which can help them manage the sleep onset process. Thus, distraction may be a mechanism that explains how sleep affects technology use, rather than the other way around.