Social media addiction has been linked to sleep disorders among young adults, in a recent study appearing online, in the journal Preventive Medicine.
The investigation was led by Jessica C. Levenson, postdoctoral researcher in psychiatry, at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
Prior trials had proved that excessive use of computers and cell phones can be greatly detrimental to kids and teenagers, severely disrupting their sleeping patterns.
Now, experts wanted to assess the effects of social media addiction on young adults as well. A group of 1,788 individuals, aged between 19 and 32, took part in the survey, which required them to answer questions regarding how frequently they accessed various websites.
This way, it was possible to determine to what extent each participant indulged in personal networking (Facebook, Google Plus, Reddit), professional networking (LinkedIn), microblogging (Twitter, Tumblr), image-sharing (Instagram, Pinterest) and video sharing (YouTube, Vine, Snapchat).
Researchers discovered that, by and large, subjects dedicated approximately 61 minutes every day to social media, and visited websites of this kind around 30 times per week.
Also, a large number of these respondents experienced difficulty while trying to rest, with as many as 30% of the participants declaring that their sleep could be described as severely disrupted. In addition, a link between social media addiction and sleep disorders was clearly discernible.
For example, individuals whose frequency of checking websites like Facebook and Twitter was the highest were proven to be 3 times more at risk of suffering from insomnia, interrupted sleep or other similar issues, when compared to other participants who were the least interested to verify their online accounts repeatedly.
Similarly, subjects who accessed social media for the most extensive lengths of time during the day were found to be twice more susceptible to various sleeping problems, when contrasted against people who weren’t so inclined to spend most of their day socializing online.
As study authors explain, the most interesting aspect of these findings is that disruptions in sleep patterns appear to be more likely among those who compulsively check their online profiles numerous times per week.
In contrast, those who dedicate more time to such pursuits, without constantly leaving the websites, only to return shortly afterwards, appear less vulnerable to sleep disorders.
According to study lad author Jessica C. Levenson, it’s extremely important to take note of these particularities of social media addiction, especially among younger adults, who were the first to indulge in social networking from an early age.
Ideally, more studies in this field should be carried out, so as to gain more insight into the reasons why socializing online has such a negative effect on sleep duration and sleep quality.
For now, some researchers speculate that one possible explanation is the fact that gadgets such as smartphones, laptops and tablets, which are commonly used when accessing social media, give off extremely bright blue light, and this interferes with the body’s circadian clock.
Another theory states that being addicted to websites of this kind simply makes people stay up longer, especially if they are engrossed in stimulating talks or heated arguments.
It may also be that people who have trouble falling asleep are more prone to accessing social media in order to pass the time, without realizing that such behavior will only heighten their mental arousal, and delay sleep even more.
Regardless of the motives behind this correlation, it would be advisable for medical practitioners to take these recent findings into account, because they may help explain why younger patients are more prone to insomnia and less likely to enjoy a good night’s sleep.
Image Source: Flickr