If checking your Instagram feed is as second nature to you as rolling out of bed, a new study suggests your tech habit could be the culprit behind a bad night's sleep. We know that screen time at night can impact sleep quality, but a new study suggests social media use at any time of day can affect your health.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine studied almost 2000 Americans who spent 61 hours on social media each week. Their findings were surprising: 30% of people who frequently used social media suffered from "high levels of sleep disturbance," says researcher Jessica Levenson.
This study is particularly worrying, considering recent news that the global average of time spent on social media has risen. The average American checks their phone 17 times a day and clocks up over three hours of screen time. Yes, that means you probably check social media at least once every waking hour.
That's not the only concern. If swiping your phone is causing sleep disturbances, researchers are worried it could be a cyclical problem. "Difficulty sleeping may lead to increased use of social media, which may in turn lead to more problems sleeping," says Levenson.
If you've had trouble sleeping lately and want to take control of your social media use, try these digital detox tips for a better night's sleep.
- Turn off push notifications. If your screen constantly lights up with Facebook notifications, it's time to do a cleanse. The University of Alabama found those pop-up messages are extremely addictive and appeal to your brain's reward centre. Turn off push notifications and file the apps away in a folder so they're not immediately visible when you unlock your phone.
- Call, don't text. Try this for a day: Every time you have the urge to chat with a friend, dial their number rather than use an app like Facebook Chat or Viber. It might seem formal but it will help you think twice about whether you really need to chat.
- Be goal oriented. Social media can be a major time-suck if you don't consider why you're using it. Take a look at Twitter. If your goal for Twitter is to keep up-to-date with breaking news, reconsider who you follow. Remove any users who don't offer you necessary information and start using it as a tool, rather than time waster.
For more information about how social media is impacting your sleep, visit Tech Crunch.
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