Late Night Texting Affects Sleep and Grades
A new study finds that late night texting affects sleep and grades for teenagers.
It’s easy to see that kids today have it much different than we did. Every kid has a cell phone, and I don’t know when that trend became the norm. The coolest thing to have when I was younger were things like slap wrist bracelets.
Goes to show you how quickly new technology can become a normal part of our lives.
While its purpose is to connect us and make us more productive, it can also be a double edged sword. They can also be extremely distracting and impact our health and performance.
One of the big questions researchers are trying to answer is how tinkering with technology before bed can affect our sleep. Scientists have been slowly finding clues that technology can disrupt it.
The recent research from Rutgers University, published in Journal of Child Neurology, adds to the evidence. It’s the first study to look specifically at the behavior of late night texting.
They found that it not only affects sleep patterns, but it also has the secondary effect of affecting academic performance.
Here’s what Xue Ming had to say about why she pursued this line of research:
During the last few years I have noticed an increased use of smartphones by my patients with sleep problems
I wanted to isolate how messaging alone – especially after the lights are out – contributes to sleep-related problems and academic performance.
How Texting Affects Performance
The team of researchers gave surveys to several high schools. They gathered information on grades, gender, and instant messaging behavior both before bed and after they turned out the lights.
What they found was that there was a difference in school performance depending on how long they were texting on their phones.
Those who used their phones for less than 30 minutes after the lights went out performed better academically than those who messaged longer. Teens that texted over 30 minutes also slept fewer hours and were sleepier during the day.
This effect, however, wasn’t seen for teens that texted with the lights on. Even though they texted over the 30 minute limit, having the lights on while doing so didn’t have the negative effect on school performance.
Seeing the Light
So what would cause the difference in sleepiness and performance?
The scientists attribute it to the blue light being emitted by the screens. This type of light can impact daytime sleepiness because it can delay the release of melatonin which is needed for sleep. And the effect is greater when screen light is viewed in a dark room.
It disrupts our bodies normal sleep pattern. So in the case of the teenagers Xue says this is what happens:
If a person keeps getting text messages with alerts and light emission, that also can disrupt his circadian rhythm. Rapid Eye Movement sleep is the period during sleep most important to learning, memory consolidation and social adjustment in adolescents.
When falling asleep is delayed but rising time is not, REM sleep will be cut short, which can affect learning and memory.
Not Just Teens
The teenage mind is at a pretty significant development stage, and sleep is not only good for general health, but for brain health.
If you want to keep their memories and ability to learn in school, regular quality and quantity of sleep is important.
Xue leaves us with this:
We need to be aware that teenagers are using electronic devices excessively and have a unique physiology.
They tend to go to sleep late and get up late. When we go against that natural rhythm, students become less efficient.
Texting affects sleep and grades, but remember that these findings don’t just apply to teens. Technology can affect your sleep just as much as a teenagers. Good sleep hygiene can affect our moods, emotional control, willpower, and a host of other important brain functions that are essential to our professional and personal lives.
So do yourself a favor, and make sure that when lights go out, that screens go off as well!