Having access to high speed internet 24 hours a day is easily one of the greatest things ever, both for entertainment and technology, but at what cost, exactly? According to a brand new study, researchers have discovered that your broadband internet is a factor in modern sleep deprivation, which was harshly linked to less sleep as well as lower quality of sleep when it’s used near your bed time. The impacts of using technology prior to sleeping isn’t anything new – in fact, scientists had urged those individuals who have trouble falling asleep when they get into bed, to try and read a book or doing anything that doesn’t involve the internet or a screen instead in order to relax more and make falling asleep easier in general.
Broken sleep, or just down right no sleep at all is extremely common these days, and it has been shown to negatively effect both health and cognitive performance after making a habit out of it. The bad news is, the problem is only getting worse. In numerous advanced countries around the world, the number of people getting less than the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep is increasing.
Although there is clearly a growing concern among experts and professionals towards excessive technology use potentially wreaking havoc on our sleep patterns and permanently damaging our quality of life because of it, until now, there has been very little evidence to support theories that suggest broadband internet was directly connected to the decline of sleep. To better understand the way high-speed internet impacts on sleep routines, a new German study has compared technology use and broadband data to national surveys on sleep.
The new study found that the individuals who took part in the study who had broadband access tend to sleep 25 minutes less than their counterparts without it. Additionally, these particular individuals were found significantly less likely to sleep between 7 to 9 hours (the recommended sleep duration) and are less satisfied with their sleep overall.
“High-speed Internet makes it very enticing to stay up later to play video games, surf the web and spend time online on social medias,” the authors wrote.
For each generation, the temptations of technology were somewhat different. Among teenagers and young adults, for instance, it was found that playing video games and watching television is an important factor for sleep deprivation. But among older users, it was computer and smartphone use that was strongly correlated with a shorter length of sleep.
“Digital temptations may lead to a delay in bedtime, which ultimately decreases sleep duration for individuals who are not able to compensate for later bedtime by waking up later in the morning,” says lead author Francesco Billari, an expert in demography at Bocconi University, Milan.
Overall, it’s clear that the results of the study were primarily driven by younger people who were more likely to use technology at bedtime, the night before work, or before a family or school commitment. As fascinating as the study is, the data on the sleeping behaviour of teenagers is still quite limited. While the results suggest the “digitalisation of the bedroom” may have large detrimental effects on sleep and academic performance, the findings are not causal.
The researchers are now reaching out to fellow researchers and calling on future research and assistance in order to further explore the mechanisms underlying internet addiction and how to promote healthier sleep practices, as well as execute them.
The authors behind the new study have concluded, saying “Given the growing awareness of the importance of sleep quantity and quality for our health and productivity, providing more information on the risks associated with technology use in the evening may promote healthier sleep and have non-negligible effects on individual welfare and well-being.”