A Woman Texting In The Dark At Late Night
Texting in the dark at night affects teens’ sleep and academic performance. Females text primarily before lights out and they’ve better academic performance than males. [Getty Images]
Sleep/wake homeostasis and circadian biological clock are the two systems in our body that regulate sleep. Sleep/wake homeostasis tells you it’s time to sleep so that you can get enough sleep to compensate the hours of being awake; and internal circadian biological clocks control duration of sleepiness and wakefulness throughout the day. However, the use of media devices severely affects these two body systems and now a new research at Rutgers University says texting at night affects sleep and academic performance, especially among teens.

Xue Ming, who’s the lead researcher, says the study published in the Journal of Child Neurology, is the first of its kind to link nighttime instant messaging habits of American teenagers to sleep health and school performance.

For the study, Ming distributed surveys to three New Jersey high schools and evaluated the 1,537 responses contrasting grades, sexes, messaging duration and whether the texting occurred before or after lights out. She found that students who messaged for less than 30 minutes after lights out have better academic performance compared to those who messaged for more than 30 minutes after lights out. Also, students who spent longer times on phone in the dark slept fewer hours and were sleepier during the day than those who didn’t use phone in bed. Texting before lights out did not affect academic performance at all.

The study also found that girls texted primarily before turning off the light, which is why despite spending more time on texting overall and more daytime sleepiness, they had better academic performance compared to males.

Blue lights emitted from smartphones and tablets are intensified when viewed in the dark and this can delay melatonin release in our body. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the circadian rhythms of physiological functions including sleep timing, blood pressure regulation, seasonal reproduction and many others. Since this short wavelength light can delay melatonin release, it can have a strong impact on daytime sleepiness symptoms, making it more difficult to fall asleep – even when seen through closed eyelids.

“We need to be aware that teenagers are using electronic devices excessively and have a unique physiology,” says Ming. “They tend to go to sleep late and get up late. When we go against that natural rhythm, students become less efficient.”

(Also, don’t forget to read using wireless device causes cancer.)