Another paper, published in September in the journal Sleep Medicine by researchers at San Diego State University and Iowa State University, looked specifically at teens’ sleep habits and screen time via an analysis of two large national surveys. The researchers found that the number of teens in the U.S. who reported sleeping less than seven hours a night increased by a whopping 22 percent between 2012 and 2015. You know what else increased in those years? The number of teens who owned smartphones. The analysis found that time spent online was linked to fewer hours of sleep, and the researchers attributed that to the prevalence of smartphones.
But for every rationalization you have, there’s a reason it’s no good for you. For one thing, simply exposing your eyes to the blue light from your smartphone screen has been shown to mess with your circadian rhythms, reminding your brain of the blue sky of daytime and throwing a wrench in its production of melatonin. You could use a twilight-filter app or fancy blue-light-blocking glasses to ease the interference, but unfortunately blue light is just one thing that’s thwarting your sleep.
So what should you do? We suggest you channel Ariana Huffingtonand make the bedroom a no-device zone. Get an old-school alarm clock and use that to wake up in the morning. That way, you’ll drift off to sleep without the glare of a blue screen or the excitement of social media, you’ll fall to sleep faster after any midnight trips to the bathroom, and — bonus — you’ll wake up excited to get out of bed and check your phone in the morning, no snooze button necessary.