Life

Losing sleep? It could be down to the way you’re using social media

Posted by
Jessica Rapana
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According to a new study, spending three hours or more on social media daily can be detrimental to sleeping patterns.

For most of us, social media has become a staple in our day-to-day lives: thoughts are tweeted, potential dates are swiped on, and kisses are sent via Whatsapp.

Don’t get us wrong, social media isn’t all bad. It can be an incredibly powerful tool for connecting us with like-minded people and chatting “face-to-face” with loved ones living 10,000 miles away.

The bad news is you could be losing sleep over your social media habits without knowing it. Not from deep-diving or mindless scrolling but rather, new research has found that using social media for three hours or more a day might be sabotaging our sleep.

The study, published in the journal BMJ Open, analysed the data of 11,872 teens from a nationally representative survey group. Participants were asked to indicate how much time they spent on social media daily, including social networks or messaging, such as Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp. 

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Researchers then sorted teens into four groups based on their daily social media use: “low users” spent less than one hour (34%); “average users” spent one to three hours (32%); “high users” spent three to five hours (14%); and “very high users” spent more than five hours (21%).

Study participants were also asked to report on their typical sleep habits including sleep and wake times, how long it took them to fall asleep, and whether they had difficult falling back asleep if they woke up during the night.

The findings showed that heavier social media use was associated with poorer sleep patterns. Specifically, “very high” social media users were 70% more likely to fall asleep after 11pm on weekdays and after midnight on weekends compared to “average” users. What’s more, they also reported having more trouble getting back to sleep after waking during the night. Both “high” and “very high” users reported typically waking up after 8am on school days, whereas average users were more likely to rise earlier.

Woman on iphone
Using social media during the day can lead to worse sleep at night.sty

Now, we already know that excessive screen time can have a negative impact on our health, thanks to numerous studies. A review in 2016 found overusing our phones can lead to increased anxiety, stress, and even depression (all of which are linked to poor sleep). What’s more, a 2014 Harvard study found that even using a screen to read an ebook before bed proved to be disruptive to sleep, ultimately leading to increased fatigue the following morning and decreasing melatonin production.

The good news is, there are things you can do if you’re looking to reduce your screen time – why not start with these five easy techniques?

Images: Getty

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Jessica Rapana

Jessica Rapana is a journalist based in London, and enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content. She is especially fond of news, health, entertainment and travel content, and drinks coffee like a Gilmore Girl.

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