Excessive Cell Phone use at Nighttime Leaving Sleep: not Good for Teenagers

Excessive Cell Phone use at Nighttime Leaving Sleep: not Good for Teenagers

Unlike addictions to alcohol, drugs or even gambling, it can be hard to pinpoint problematic cell phone use. Almost everyone has a cell phone and uses it regularly. But if someone can’t get through dinner without sending text messages or furiously typing on a personal digital assistant during a meeting, it may be time to take a step back. Maturational changes of homeostatic sleep regulation are permissive of the sleep phase delay in the course of adolescence.


Sleep patterns go crazy during your teenage years. Many teens have the energy to play computer games until late at night but can't find the energy to get out of bed in time for school. This may be more than just laziness and bad behaviour. One thing is for certain - sleep is crucial for teenagers because it is while they are snoozing that they release a hormone that is essential for their growth spurt. Lack of sleep can lead to moodiness, impulsivity and depression.

Teens need about 9 1/4 hours of sleep each night to function best (for some, 8 1/2 hours is enough). Most teens DO NOT get enough sleep -– one study found that only 15% reported sleeping 8 1/2 hours on school nights.Teens tend to have irregular sleep patterns across the week -- they typically stay up late and sleep in late on the weekends, which can affect their biological clocks and hurt the quality of their sleep.Many teens suffer from treatable sleep disorders such as narcolepsy, insomnia, restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea.

According to a long-term study published in the 2004 April issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, young teenagers whose preschool sleep habits were poor were more than twice as likely to use drugs, tobacco or alcohol.The researchers suggest that early sleep problems may be a "marker" for predicting later risk of early adolescent substance abuse—and that there may be a common biological factor underlying both traits.

"Sleep is the power source that keeps your mind alert and calm. Every night and at every nap, sleep recharges the brain's battery. Sleeping well increases brainpower just as weight lifting builds stronger muscles, because sleeping well increases your attention span and allows you to be physically relaxed and mentally alert at the same time. Then you are at your personal best." told Marc Weissbluth, MD ;an sleep expert.

If your kids are falling asleep in their morning cereal, check their cell phones -- even a tiny bit of nighttime chatting might be robbing them of needed sleep.

A new study found that teens who reported using their cell phones after bedtime just once a month nearly doubled their odds of being very tired a year later. Those who gabbed away after lights out once a week were more than three times as likely to be tired.

The study only looked at students in Flanders, Belgium. But one U.S. pediatrician said the findings probably hold true for American kids, too.

"You have a population that's always tired to begin with," said Dr. Irwin Benuck, an attending physician at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Add nighttime cell-phone use to the mix, and the findings are "very predictable and not surprising," added Benuck, who's familiar with the study.

Study author Jan Van den Bulck, a researcher at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, surveyed 1,656 secondary school students; the average age in one group was 13.7 years and 16.9 years in the other.

Only 38 percent of the teens surveyed said they never used their cell phones after bedtime. Using the phone right after lights out increased the risk of being "very tired" a year later by 2.2 times; those who talked or text messaged between midnight and 3 a.m. raised their risk nearly fourfold.

Van den Bulck blamed cell phone use for tiredness in about one-third of all the children. "There is no safe dose and no safe time for using the mobile phone for text messaging or for calling after lights out," Van den Bulck wrote in the study.

In an interview, the author said parents may be in the dark about the nighttime activities of their kids. "It is a very typical phenomenon -- kids grow up with new technologies that adults discovered at a much later age, and, as a result, they use these technologies in ways adults can't even imagine," Van den Bulck said. "Concerned parents often think they know what their kids are up to, but often they don't."

Why would using a cell phone just once a month raise the risk of tiredness? "Possibly kids who say they don't use their phone underestimate the real frequency of the behaviors. Or maybe once you've started considering using the phone, you remain 'switched on,' " Van den Bulck said. "After all, don't forget that cell phone use requires at least two people. People who call may expect to be called as well -- even if you don't call much, you may still end up being awake, awaiting a potential call."

So what's a parent to do? Simple, Van den Bulck said: Restrict or forbid cell phone use after bedtime. "To teenagers, I would say: Be strong! You may feel that you need to stay connected with your friends all night, but you gain nothing by tiring yourself out, which is what you would be doing."

Like computers, cell phones are short-lived products that present the clearest threat to humans and the environment when they are being created or destroyed, as they contain toxics-rich semiconductor chips.In the United States, the world's second largest market for cell phones after China, handsets are cast off on average after 18 months.

There are positive and negative ways of using cell phones. A positive is for emergencies, if ever a student would need to get in contact with their parents or relatives, the cell phone easily can come into play. A negative is, of course, the fact that students could be cheating on tests and receiving answers from other students.It might be the hallmarks of cell phone addiction .

The problem seems to be growing. A Japanese study revealed that children with cell phones often don’t make friends with their less tech-savvy peers, a Hungarian study found that three-fourths of children had mobile phones and an Italian study showed that one quarter of adolescents owned multiple phones and many claimed to be somewhat addicted to them.

As with any new product, questions about its safety, its possible links to cancer and the dependability of its signal have arisen about this form of ultra-fast, ultra-convenient communication. It seems that many things cause cancer of some form or another, and cell phones are thought to be no different.A British study also recently found that 36 percent of college students surveyed said they could not get by without cell phones. But this may be more a sign that students view cell phones as a modern necessity like a car, said David Sheffield, a psychologist who conducted the study at Staffordshire University in England.

The following guidelines for mobile phones should according to Huber, “Expressly not only be valid for children”.

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