Sheffield students take part in study to understand impact of smartphone use on sleep

A group of students from Sheffield have taken part in a study to understand the impact of smartphone use on adolescent sleep.

By Alana Roberts
Wednesday, 22 May, 2019, 11:57
Charlotte Holden from Nottingham Trent University, delivering a lecture to Tapton sixth form students

The sixth form pupils from Tapton School, in Crosspool, are participating in the research project which is being conducted by the Department of Psychology at Nottingham Trent University.

The group of 50 students are all being monitored to help understand how using a smartphone late at night can effect how we sleep.

‘Sleep is a fundamental part of wellbeing’, according to researchers Charlotte Holden and Professor John Groeger.

They said: “Research increasingly suggests that constant use of devices, such as smartphones, is negatively affecting both the quality and quantity of our sleep.”

Many people may not know, but there are three ways our phones, tablets or computers can affect our sleep.

Light emitting devices, like smartphones, emit blue light which suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone which is closely associated with the regulation of the human body’s sleep-wake cycle.

Researchers also say what we read and see, such as posts on social media, can stimulate the brain and will evoke feelings and emotions such as excitement or sadness meaning it can be harder to relax and fall asleep, and to have a good quality sleep if we do.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Finally, being awake and using a smartphone rather than spending that time sleeping simply shortens the time spent asleep – and sleeping longer in the morning is not possible for young people on school or work days.

It is recommended that they get around nine to 10 hours sleep per night, with shorter sleep durations and poor sleep quality affecting cognitive functions and mental health which can lead to behavioural problems and less productivity either in school or at work.

Head of Sixth Form, Andrew Wright, said: “A good quantity of quality sleep is an easy way to improve your performance at school and your general sense of wellbeing.

“Without realising it we’ve let smartphone technology become part of almost every aspect of our lives and we’re starting to understand the consequences. It seems increasingly clear that we need to question our new found habits.

“Our hope is that, off the back of this project, our students will have a real understanding of the benefit of good quality sleep.

“Especially for our Sixth Formers, who are on the cusp of independent living, this project could not come at a better time. From here, we hope it will impact our wider school community and therefore the wellbeing of all our students.”