Electronic devices linked to sleep loss8th March 2011
Electronic devices may interfere with people's ability to sleep, according to a recent US study.
The researchers found that, when people watched television before sleeping, or played video games late at night, melatonin failed to express itself in the brain.
Study author Charles Cszeisler, of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, said he believed that parents needed to limit their children's access to electronic devices in order to protect school performance from lost sleep.
There is a strong correlation between lack of melatonin and insomnia.
Czeisler said that one in 10 children also reported being awoken by text messages after they had gone to bed.
He said that doctors suspected artificial light could keep the brain awake, and that a high proportion of study respondents reported they routinely got less sleep than they needed.
A high proportion of people over age 46 reported watching television every night before sleeping, while about a third of teenagers and adults under 30 played video games every night before sleeping.
Over half of the study subjects also reported staying up late using computers at least some nights of the week.
Nearly one quarter of all teenagers reported feeling sleepy during the day.
Currently, sleep experts recommend that teenagers get up to 9 hours and 15 minutes of sleep per night, but the study authors recorded an average amount of nearly 2 hours less than that.
Czeisler said he was most concerned about how little sleep 13-18 year-olds were getting.
He said that the average child was currently losing about 50 hours of sleep per month.
Lack of sleep implicates people's driving habits, sex lives, mood, work, and overall health.
Currently, every age group copes with sleep loss by consuming amounts of caffeinated drinks that sometimes exceed several cups of coffee a day.
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