It’s a problem that has persisted through the generations – kids staying up late and losing sleep the next day! In all honesty, there have been many reasons for this throughout the years, not least of which is puberty and changing hormone levels.
However, moreso than ever, teenagers have been sleeping fewer and fewer hours, and the root of this problem is in their pockets.
How are smartphones part of the problem?
Your sleep habits are governed by 24-hour circadian rhythms, which are informed by illumination levels sensed by the eyes. Around night time, the hormone melatonin, which regulates wakefulness, is secreted at the highest levels throughout the 24-hour period, making you feel sleepy.
However, when you’re exposed to blue light sources, your brain is stimulated and made to think that there’s still daylight out there. In response, your brain suppresses the release of melatonin, preventing you from falling asleep on the bed.
Smartphones, laptops, computer displays, and televisions are all major blue light contributors, and because smartphones are so ubiquitous and tied to a teen’s life, they’re the worst offender in causing a growing sleep-lacking epidemic, in which an ever-increasing percentage of teens are sleeping less than seven hours a night.
And of course, there’s no need to inform anyone on the negative effects of sleep deprivation, which may include depression, reduced academic performance, anxiety, and more.
How can you help?
Swiss International School in Dubai encourages technological innovation and fluency in Internet society – but this should never come at the expense of the well-being of our students. At the boarding school, our boarding students hand over their electronic devices before heading to bed, allowing them time to wind down and get a good night’s rest.
Such measures can also be applied at home. Set a period of time before bedtime where your teen isn’t allowed to use their smartphone or other electronic devices. You can also encourage them to read books instead of spending time on social media at night, which carries a variety of literary and academic benefits on its own.
To know more about how to limit screen time as a whole, you can check out our previous blog entry on 5 easy screen tips.