Study links social media use, lack of shut-eye among youth

A new study authored by a doctor at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario suggests even one hour of social media use per day can have a negative impact on a young person's sleep.

Study authored by CHEO doctor looked at association between social media use and sleep duration

Young people who spend time on social media are more likely to suffer sleep deprivation, according to a new study. (Associated Press)

A new study authored by a doctor at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario suggests even one hour of social media use per day can have a negative impact on a young person's sleep. 

Dr. Jean-Phillippe Chaput, part of the Healthy Active Living and Obesity team at CHEO, was a lead author of the study, published Wednesday by the journal Acta Paediatrica.

We do see an important association between the use of social media and not enough sleep in young people.- Dr. Jean-Phillippe Chaput, CHEO

Researchers examined the association social media use and sleep duration among 5,242 subjects between the ages of 11 to 20 who responded to the 2015 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey. The survey is a province-wide school-based study of middle and high school students.

Respondents were asked about their use of social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and MySpace. 

Researchers found that 63.6 per cent of the young people surveyed slept less than the recommended amount of time, while 73.4 per cent reported they used social media for at least one hour a day.

"Use of social media and screens can disrupt a person's circadian rhythms and cause increased alertness," Chaput said.

"We do see an important association between the use of social media and not enough sleep in young people."

Kids 11 to 17 most sleep-deprived

The survey found that sleep duration varied significantly between age groups, with those between 11 to 17 getting the fewest hours of shut-eye. It also found 16.1 per cent of respondents use social media for at least five hours per day. 

Researchers found that although females spent significantly more time using social media than males, the relationship between the use of social media and sleep duration did not differ by sex.

The majority of respondents — nearly 80 per cent — did not meet the physical activity recommendations of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous movement per day. 

The article noted the problem of insufficient sleep among adolescents has grown over the last few decades, and has been attributed to such factors as artificial light, caffeine use, lax bedtime rules and the increasing availability of information and communication technology. 

The Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology Canada recommends children ages six to 13 sleep between nine and 11 hours per night, teens 14 to 17 get between eight and 10 hours, and those 18 and over get seven to nine hours of solid shut-eye.