Moderate iPad use won't keep teens up at night

October 4, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—Teenagers who use an iPad for an hour before bed are still likely to get a good night's sleep, new research from Flinders University shows.

The study, led by sleep psychologist Dr Michael Gradisar, has found that moderate use immediately before bed will not affect a teenager's sleep, contrary to popular literature which suggests iPads, mobile phones and televisions stimulate the brain and disrupt sleep.

Conducted by Dr Gradisar's honours students, the study measured the and sleep quality of 16 – aged between 14 and 19 – over the course of three weeks at the University's newly-built Laboratory.

The teenagers were asked to watch a movie or play a game on the iPad for up to one hour before their usual using the brightest screen setting, however Dr Gradisar said the light emitted from the tablet and the stimulation of their chosen activity had no effect on their sleep.

"We measured their before sleep, their during sleep and the quality of their sleep, and all in all we found that one hour of iPad use had no effect on their sleep," Dr Gradisar said.

"Technology use has always been the scapegoat for why teenagers are falling asleep later at night but I'm not sure that's entirely true," he said.

However Dr Gradisar said the iPad was not completely off the hook, with a report from the US revealing that two hours of tablet time significantly affected levels – the natural hormone responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycle – in a group of 19-year-olds.

"When the teenagers used the iPad for an hour before bed on full brightness there was no marked reduction in melatonin, which is in line with our results, but after two hours there was a significant reduction in melatonin levels.

"While the US research didn't measure sleep, it found the iPad does supress melatonin so it's likely that it would have an impact on sleep.

"But what both studies tell us is that we need to conduct more research to find out exactly what the safe amount of technology time is before bed."

Dr Gradisar said the next step in his studies would be to test unrestricted iPad use, rather than limiting tablet time to an hour before bed.

"We've only told the teens to use it for an hour before their usual bedtime so testing unlimited use would give us a clearer indication of whether technology delays bedtimes because the user is more likely to lose track of time.

"While we can't stop teenagers from using this technology, we might be able to inform them on when it's best to use it and how much to use it."

Explore further: Less sleep may be answer to beating bedtime blues

Related Stories

Less sleep may be answer to beating bedtime blues

May 8, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Restricting the amount of time a child spends in bed could lower levels of sleep-related stress and anxiety, a Flinders University researcher believes.

On March 11, spring forward without losing sleep

March 6, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- The return of daylight saving time and losing an hour of sleep causes most to cringe at the thought. According to Aparajitha Verma, M.D., medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Methodist ...

Lack of sleep leads to insulin resistance in teens

September 29, 2012
A new study suggests that increasing the amount of sleep that teenagers get could improve their insulin resistance and prevent the future onset of diabetes.

Five tips for a better night's sleep

April 17, 2012
There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep to get you going in the morning. Drexel’s Dr. Joanne Getsy offers some tips to jump start your body and mind.

Recommended for you

80 percent of activity tracker users stick with the devices for at least six months

September 26, 2017
Use of activity trackers, such as wearable devices and smartphone apps, is on the rise, and a new study shows that 80 percent of users stuck with the device for at least six months. Though the gadgets may help motivate users ...

Study finds being in a good mood for your flu jab boosts its effectiveness

September 25, 2017
New research by a team of health experts at the University of Nottingham has found evidence that being in a positive mood on the day of your flu jab can increase its protective effect.

New tool demonstrates high cost of lack of sleep in the workplace

September 25, 2017
Sleep disorders and sleep deficiency are hidden costs that affect employers across America. Seventy percent of Americans admit that they routinely get insufficient sleep, and 30 percent of U.S. workers and 44 percent of night ...

Maternal diet could affect kids' brain reward circuitry

September 25, 2017
Researchers in France found that rats who ate a junk food diet during pregnancy had heavier pups that strongly preferred the taste of fat straight after weaning. While a balanced diet in childhood seemed to reduce the pups' ...

Exercise can make cells healthier, promoting longer life, study finds

September 22, 2017
Whether it's running, walking, cycling, swimming or rowing, it's been well-known since ancient times that doing some form of aerobic exercise is essential to good health and well-being. You can lose weight, sleep better, ...

Breathing dirty air may harm kidneys, study finds

September 21, 2017
Outdoor air pollution has long been linked to major health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A new study now adds kidney disease to the list, according to ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.