While technology sure has made life simpler for most of us, it has also managed to complicate things. Where children once used to run around in their backyards, they're now all glued to some screen in their houses. And while it's alright to have some screen time, most kids these days tend to only be stuck to these screens instead of going out to play. And teenagers are the ones who are affected most by this pattern. Since they have more access to screens, they tend to be glued to the screens all the time, so much that their sleep patterns are also affected.
Researchers have found that it isn't the screen that's causing the issue but particularly the blue light it emits that is. This light causes people to stay awake and this is why most teens find it hard to fall asleep easily. The researchers are now saying that one should ideally cut off screen time at least two hours before bed time. And if that isn't possible then one needs to at least wear glasses that protect the eyes against the blue light.
A study was conducted on 55 Dutch children between the ages of 12-17 years. All of these children had different sleep patterns. Some of them were asked to continue the way they did with their screen time, some were asked to wear glasses and some were asked to give up screen time completely for about 2 hours before bedtime. They were then surveyed for about 5 weeks during which their sleep quality was judged using machines that track when a person is restfully sleeping and by looking at samples of melatonin (sleep hormone) levels in their body.
It was found that the group that was wearing glasses and the group that limited sleep time slept a lot better than the group that didn't limit screen time. One of the head researchers, Dr. Dirk Jan Stenvers said, “Adolescents increasingly spend more time on devices with screens, and sleep complaints are frequent in this age group.” “Here we show very simply that these sleep complaints can be easily reversed by minimizing evening screen use or exposure to blue light.”
Dr. Gina Posner, a paediatrician said, “This is great for my patients that refuse to reduce their screen time, but I still believe it is important to keep it to a maximum of two hours a day to increase physical activity as well as allow children time [to] decompress before bedtime.” “Sleep is important in this age group and more and more adolescents are experiencing sleep disturbances,” said another doctor. “This can give families insight into the problems adolescents can experience with sleeping and how to improve sleep quality by trying to minimize screen exposure.” Stay tuned for more updates.