It goes without saying that our waking lives are dominated by our devices and screens, and all of that screen time is beginning to creep into the hours that should be spent sleeping. Many sleep researchers and medical professionals are now stating that binge-watching streaming television and nighttime smartphone use is a creating a modern “epidemic” of sleep deprivation which could potentially have long-term effects on individuals’ health and workplace productivity. Now, an eye-opening new study claims just one hour of social media use each day is enough to significantly affect sleep health. Is this yet another brick in the technological wall we’re building between us and a good night’s sleep?

The study was published by a group of Canadian researchers using data gathered from the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey. Data from over 5,000 students was analyzed, looking for connections between media use and overall sleep health. 63.6% of students reported getting less sleep than is recommended, while 73.4% of students reporting using social media for at least one hour per day. After the data were adjusted to account for various contributing factors, the researchers claim the data show that one hour of social media use or more each day contributes to overall decreased sleep health.

According to head author Dr. Jean-Philippe Chaput, this link between social media and sleep health is part of a growing body of evidence which suggests our digital devices might be changing our behaviors much more than we think:

Electronic screen devices are pervasive in today’s society and we are just starting to understand their risks and benefits. We observed that social media use was associated with greater odds of short sleep duration in a dose-response manner. Importantly, significant associations were found when social media use exceeded one hour per day, suggesting that even this level of social media may be negatively associated with sleep duration.

Studies like this are why I’m shocked each time some high-tech new sleep product hits the market. Do we really need more technology in the bedroom when study after study shows technology is keeping us from sleeping well?

Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley is a writer and musician from the mountains of Western North Carolina. Contact him at [email protected]

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