May 17, 2011

Video Game Use Among Teens Linked To Lack Of Sleep

Researchers are concluding the US teens who send excessive amounts of time playing video games are much less likely to sleep the recommended 8 to 9 hours per day, reports the AFP news agency.

At the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, researchers claimed that an analysis of data on 16,000 teens also found that youths who reported sleeping less than seven hours a night did not get enough exercise which is also detrimental to health.

Caris Fitzgerald, a psychiatry resident at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences who led the study, explains that lack of proper sleep has a particularly negative effect on teens. A poor night's sleep can induce ill effects which include low energy, poor concentration, moodiness, a greater tendency to act on impulse and more suicidal thoughts.

A mere 10 percent of US teens get the recommended hours of proper sleep, according to the study. Teens have "accelerated demands for growth and memory retention, very vital things with regard to the teen in their overall success," getting sufficient sleep is even more important for them, Fitzgerald explained. But they also struggle to do so more than adults.

Fitzgerald continued, "When it comes to teens, they have a lot of factors that affect them, from an ever greater quest for independence reflected by later bedtime; to expectations from parents and peers -- like texting in the middle of the night."

The circadian rhythms of teens work against them if they are staying up late distracted and attempt to sleep late into the morning, "unfortunately the rest of society is not on that schedule and school is still going to start at 8:00 am," Fitzgerald said.

The researchers were unable to conclude there was a cause-effect relationship between sleep and online gaming or sport, but Fitzgerald pointed to "some evidence that reducing media exposure and increasing physical activity could increase the amount teens sleep."

The study did have one piece of good news for teens: watching television does not appear to affect sleep time.


On the Net: