Pre-teens who use a mobile phone or watch TV in the dark an hour before bed are at risk of not getting enough sleep, when compared to those who use these devices in a lit room or not at all.
The study by British and Swiss researchers is the first to analyse the pre-sleep use of media devices with screens alongside the impact of room lighting conditions on sleep in children.
It found that night-time use of phones, tablets and laptops is consistently associated with poor sleep quality, insufficient sleep, and poor perceived quality of life. Insufficient sleep has also been shown to be associated with impaired immune responses, depression, anxiety and obesity in children and adolescents.
Data was collected from 6,616 adolescents aged between 11 and 12 and more than 70-percent reported using at least one screen based device within one hour of their bedtime. They were asked to self-report a range of factors including their device use in both lit and darkened rooms, their weekday and weekend bedtimes, how difficult they found it to go to sleep and their wake up times.
The results showed that those who used a phone or watched television in a room with a light on were 31-percent more likely to get less sleep than those who didn’t use a screen. The likelihood increased a whopping 147-percent if the same activity took place in the dark.
It has been reported that globally, 90-percent of adolescents are not sleeping the recommended nine to 11 hours per night, which has coincided with an increase in the use of screen-based media devices.
“Our findings are significant not only for parents but for teachers, health professionals and adolescents themselves,” said lead author, Dr Michael Mireku. “We would recommend that these groups are made aware of the potential issues surrounding screen use during bedtime including insufficient sleep and poor sleep quality.”