Electronic devices and teenagers’ sleep

One of the most common concerns I hear about when working with teenagers is the amount of time teens spend on electronic devices. In the digital age we live in, people are definitely more attached to screens than they ever have been before… tablets, phones, gaming systems, etc. Electronic use has an impact on many aspects of development including attention span, emotional regulation, and sleep.

Here is an interesting article discussing the impact that before-bedtime use of electronic devices has on sleep patterns. Using electronics immediately before bed reduces the amount of melatonin, which in turn makes it difficult to fall asleep and reduces REM sleep. The result is essentially sleep deprivation, which affects mood and ability to concentrate.

The author recommends a ‘curfew’ on electronic use two hours before bedtime and engaging in a mentally relaxing activity like reading. In my experience, this is a sound idea — although my stepson gives me grief about it, like all teenagers do. But the reality is, people of all ages need to “unplug” to get the necessary amount of rest, and teenagers, who are undergoing massive developmental changes, need it the most.

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