Devices before bed bad for sleep: study

Intermediate pupils who use a device before bed and decide when they go to bed get less sleep and feel sleepier the next day, a former University of Otago student has found.

University of Otago Christchurch student Kate Ford, who undertook the study of 163 year nine to 11 students as part of a summer studentship, found 72% of those interviewed got nine to 11 hours of sleep each night over a week.

However, the study showed pupils who used devices before going to sleep got less sleep and felt more sleepy the following morning.

Pupils who could choose their own bedtime chose to go to bed almost 30 minutes later and had a shorter sleep duration than those whose parents chose their bedtimes.

Most pupils – 66% - did not choose their own bedtime.

Miss Ford, who is now studying to be a psychologist, said it was pleasing he average sleep time was within the guidelines of nine to 11 hours of sleep per night.

“But that also means that almost one in four pupils did not achieve sleep within these guidelines, which highlights an area for improvement.

“There were also some interesting observations over the weekends where students went to bed later but woke later achieving similar sleep length to the school days.

“Of concern is a small group of students (6%) who reported less than seven hours of sleep, including a small number reporting not sleeping at all.”

Canterbury District Health Board sleep health service head Dr Paul Kelly, who supervised the study, said the foundations for good health were based on proper nutrition, regular exercise and good sleep quality.

He acknowledged while New Zealand is in Alert Level 4 national lockdown it is difficult for children and adults alike to stick to routines, but stressed it was important that as much as possible children continue regular bedtimes.

“The study findings suggest the need for parental guidance around bedtimings and moderation of the use and availability of electronic devices before bed”.

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