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Study Shows Insomnia in Adolescents is Linked to Screen Time

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teenager with phonePreliminary results from a new study indicate that greater amounts of daily screen time are associated with more insomnia symptoms and shorter sleep duration among adolescents. Results show that for social messaging, web surfing and TV/movie watching, insomnia symptoms and sleep duration fully explained the association between screen-based activities and depressive symptoms.

“Higher rates of depressive symptoms among teens may be partially explained through the ubiquitous use of screen-based activities, which can interfere with high quality restorative sleep.” said postdoctoral researcher Xian Stella Li,PhD, who conducted the analyses with Stony Brook professor and principal investigator Lauren Hale, and collaborators from Penn State University and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“These results suggest that parents, educators and health care professionals could consider educating adolescents and regulating their screen time, as possible interventions for improving sleep health and reducing depression,” concluded Dr. Hale, Professor of Family, Population, and Preventive Medicine and core faculty in the Program in Public Health at Stony Brook Medicine. “We’re very interested to see whether the adverse influences of social media and screen use on sleep and mental health persist during the transition to adulthood.”

The study included data from 2,865 adolescents in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study’s teen survey. Participants had a mean age of 15.63 years, and 51 percent were male. Surveys included sleep characteristics: two insomnia symptoms (problems falling asleep, problems staying asleep), habitual weeknight sleep duration; and depressive symptoms. Teens reported the typical daily time spent (hours) on four screen-based activities (social messaging, web surfing, TV/movies, and gaming).

The research abstract was published recently in an online supplement of the journal Sleep and was presented at SLEEP 2018, the 32nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS), which is a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.

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