Electronic devices and social media are impacting students’ sleep habits, warns Fraser Health.
Dr. Ingrid Tyler, a medical health officer with Fraser Health, said research released recently by the McCreary Centre Society shows less than half of teens aged 14-17 are getting eight or more hours of sleep each night. As a new school year gets into full swing, this is concerning because inadequate sleep is associated with obesity and other health issues.
“Anecdotally, we hear kids will be up in the night on their social media, for fear of missing out,” she said.
The research shows a clear association between high levels of activity on social media and poor sleep. The McCreary Centre Society conducted the 2018 BC Adolescent Health Survey, which was completed by 38,000 students across B.C. in Grades 7-12.
The data on sleep deprivation has worsened since the last McCreary report, she said.
Tyler said this is an emerging area of research, but she believes electronic devices and social media are emerging risk factors disrupting youths’ sleep.
Research shows students who are offline at a regular bedtime are more likely to get more than eight hours of sleep than those who don’t go offline at their expected bedtime. Getting a decent night’s sleep can lead to better academic achievement and better mental and physical health.
Lack of sleep is association with concerning health impacts including weight gain, obesity, depression, suicidality and hyperactivity, she said.
She has concrete recommendations for parents:
• Have a regular sleep schedule and stick to it.
• Have a wind-down time before bed that is device-free.
• Have an old-fashioned alarm clock on your child’s bedside table, rather than a phone alarm.
“Go to bed without that distraction,” she said.