Use of smartphone in the night hours is disturbing sleep patterns, with many youngsters even suffering from symptoms of insomnia. Latest study in Ahmedabad compares sleep problems due to use of smartphones to those seen in people who are jet-lagged. The research says that for people who use smartphones excessively have at least 2 hours of sleep disturbed. Many youths also responded that they get less than 7 hours of sleep during workdays and try to compensate for it during the day-offs.
The study – ‘Evaluation of smartphone usage as a predictor of social jet-lag in university students’ has been published in Annals of Indian Psychiatry journal. The authors included Dishant Upadhyay, Karan Mehta, Neeraj Mahajan, and Taxashil Jadeja from Department of Physiology at NHL Municipal Medical College and Rajkumar Sevak from the US-based University of the Pacific.
Among the 1175 students who were surveyed, 60% said their maximum usage of smartphones was during the night hours or just before going to sleep. The researchers say that this pattern was the most harmful as the brain’s sleep cycle depends on light exposure and cannot differentiate between natural and artificial light. This is why as long as the person is exposed to light, the brain forces the body to stay awake and alert, which disturbs the sleep pattern. Around 47% said they get less than 7 hours of sleep and 38% said they try to balance it by getting in extra hours during day-offs.
Interestingly, although other digital devices like TV, computers and desktops also added to the sleep disturbance, it is the smartphones that are the biggest contributors. Several experts in the filed agree to this research and say that majority of people check or use their phones in dark rooms and this worsens the matter. This makes it much more difficult for the brain to get the much needed rest. Excessive use of smartphones leads to sleep deprivation, and this can also cause severe fatigue, aggression as well as weaken a person’s memory and ability to concentrate.