After Hours

Electronic gadgets induce junk sleep

Junk sleepA recent survey by The Sleep Council concludes that "British teenagers are damaging their health by not getting enough sleep, because they are distracted by electronic gadgets in their bedrooms." Check out the Reuters' story: "'Junk sleep' damaging U.K. teenagers' health."

What exactly is junk sleep? According to Dr. Chris Idzikowski of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre:

"What we are seeing is the emergence of junk sleep — that is, sleep that is of neither the length nor quality that it should be in order to feed the brain with the rest it needs to perform properly at school."

Here are some of the survey stats:

  • Thirty percent of the 1,000 kids surveyed (ages 12-16) managed to sleep four to seven hours a night, as opposed to the recommended eight or nine hours
  • Nearly all the teenagers in the survey had a phone, music system, or TV in their bedroom, with around two-thirds possessing all three
  • Almost a quarter said they fell asleep more than once a week while watching TV, listening to music, or using other electronic gadgets
  • Approximately one in five of the teenage boys said the quality of their sleep had been affected by leaving their TV or computer on
  • Forty percent of kids surveyed felt tired each day, with girls aged 15 to 16 faring the worst
  • Eleven percent said they were bothered by the lack or quality of sleep

Of course, the golden rule about parenting is that we're suppose to set good examples for our children vs. the hypocritical "do as I say and not as I do." It would be interesting to find out how many of the kids' parents in this study get adequate rest and how many gadgets they own for potential night-time distraction.

Do you "unplug" at night, or do electronic gadgets (computer, TV, iPod, phone, gaming system, etc.) keep you from getting the recommended amount of sleep?

About

Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.

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