Bad sleep habits linked to social media use, study finds

Caroline Allen
Contributor
Spending three hours or more on social media could impact sleeping patterns. [Photo: Getty]

Research has found that using your mobile phone before you go to sleep will make it harder for your brain to switch off. To that end, many people choose to limit their screen-time in the hour before they go to bed.

A new study has revealed that waiting until an hour before you go to bed might be too little, too late.

The study, published in the BMJ Open journal, surveyed 11,872 teenagers and discovered that people who spend three or more hours on social media per day are more likely to have bad sleep patterns.

Racking up over three hours scrolling social media may be impacting your sleeping habits in ways you didn’t even know about - regardless of whether you stop using your phone an hour before bedtime.

READ MORE: Does what you eat before bed really affect your dreams?

The study of a nationally representative group asked participants to indicate how much time they spent on social media - including WhatsApp - every day.

It split people into groups of “low users” (34%) who spent less than an hour per day, “average users” (32%) who spent between one to three hours, “high users” (14%) who spend three to five hours and “very high users” (21%) who spent more than five hours per day on social media.

Alongside this, the teenagers were asked to divulge information on their sleeping habits which included their bed time, wake time, how long it took them to fall asleep and if they woke up in the night.

READ MORE: Napping could help you live longer

“Very high” social media users were 70% more likely to fall asleep after 11pm on weekdays and after midnight on weekends in comparison to the “average” users.

They also found it a struggle to wake up in the morning and had difficulty getting back to sleep if they did wake up in the night.

Recent research revealed that getting less than six hours sleep a night can increase your death risk. An irregular sleep pattern can also put you at greater risk of a whole host of avoidable illnesses.

As it turns out, the key to a healthier sleep pattern might be as simple as limiting social media time each day.

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