Daytime use of electronic devices also affect sleep in adolescents

Both day- and bedtime use of electronic devices are related to an increased risk of short sleep duration, long sleep onset latency and increased sleep deficit. 


By Andreas R. Graven

Hysing and colleagues show a dose-response relationship between sleep duration and use of devices, such as tablets, PCs and cell phones. The person in this image was not part of the study. (Photograph: Colourbox)

These are among the main findings in a new study lead by researcher psychology specialist Mari Hysing. She is at researcher at the Regional Centre for Child and Youth Mental Health and Child Welfare, at Uni Research Health in Bergen, Norway.

The study, published in BMJ Open, is a collaboration between researchers from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the University of Bergen.

Their work highlights a strong relationship between use of electronic devices and subjective sleep deficit.

- The use of electronic devices is related to sleeping less than both the youths themselves and experts deem necessary, researcher Mari Hysing points out.

Hysing and colleagues show a dose-response relationship between sleep duration and use of devices, such as tablets, PCs and cell phones.

All daytime screen use exceeding two hours were significantly associated with shorter sleep duration.

Those who used a pc for more than four hours after school had a 3,5 times higher risk of sleeping less than five hours.

Suggesing recommendations on healthy media use
In their conclusion, the researchers suggest that recommendations on healthy media use could include restrictions on electronic devices.

“Parallel with the rapid change in technology, the recommendations for healthy media use given to parents and adolescents also need updating, and age-specific guidelines regarding the quantity and timing of electronic media use should be developed and made known to the public”, the researchers write.

“Not having a TV in the bedroom is the current recommendation, however other electronic devices such as PCs and cell phones, seem to exert the same negative influence on sleep.  Our results confirm recommendations for restricting media use in general”, Hysing says.

The researchers used data from the unique youth@hordaland survey, and included a total of 9875  16-19 years old adolescents from the county of Hordaland in Western Norway.

Explaining the associations 
Almost all of the study participants reported using one or more electronic devices during the last hour before bedtime.

Mari Hysing, researcher at the Regional Centre for Child and Youth Mental Health and Child Welfare, Uni Research Health. (Photograph: Rune Rolvsjord)

“Extensive use of these devices was significantly and positively associated with long sleep onset latency and sleep deficit, with an inverse dose-response relationship between sleep duration and media use,” the researchers point out.

There are probably multiple pathways explaining the associations between sleep and electronic devices.

Mari Hysing says that media use may directly affect the amount of sleep, because of its time consuming nature.

“The electronic devices may also interfere with sleep through increased psychophysiological arousal”, she adds

Furthermore, when using electronic media devices before bedtime, the bright light may interfere with sleep by disrupting the circadian rhythm, and/or by causing an immediate activation in itself.  


Mari Hysing, Ståle Pallesen, Kjell Morten Stormark, Reidar Jakobsen, Astri J. Lundervold og Børge Sivertsen. Sleep and Use of Electronic Devices in Adolescence: Results from a Large Population-Based Study. BMJ Open, 2015.


Feb. 3, 2015, 8:04 a.m.

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