iPhone to blame for insomniac teenagers

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iPhone dark
Is your iPhone keeping you awake at night?
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

iPhone-turns-10Have a teenager who’s always wide-awake at night? Blame their iPhone.

One sleep researcher says that smartphone addiction is proving an additional delay to sleep onset, meaning some kids are only getting six hours of sleep a night. The result is chronic tiredness and poor school performance.

As part of its tenth anniversary of the iPhone coverage, Wired spoke to University of Oxford sleep researcher Russell Foster about the impact Apple’s insanely popular handset is having on our sleep patterns. It seems one group in particular is suffering.

Teenagers, who should be getting around nine hours of sleep a night, are only getting two-thirds of that due to smartphone obsession. Their late-night texting, Snapchatting, and web-browsing is exacerbating predisposed delayed sleep onset.

“What happens with delayed sleep onset is that their performance in schools in the morning is particularly bad,” Foster said. “They’re chronically tired.”

In the past, we’ve blamed this on blue light, which is believed to make us more alert at night when our brains should be winding down. To combat this, Apple and other manufacturers have started giving us blue light filters.

But Foster believes that the main problem is the “arousing nature of the content from smartphones.” Teenagers simply become so engrossed in checking their Twitter timelines and watching videos on YouTube that their minds remain active.

The good news is that smartphones can also be the fix for this problem, Foster says. Thanks to sensors, accessories, and clever software, the iPhone can be used as a sleep aid. You can already download apps like Sleepio, which help you improve your sleep pattern.

Foster also suggests other ways in which you can improve sleep and still have a relationship with your iPhone at night. The full interview over at Wired is well worth a read. You can find the rest of our tenth anniversary of iPhone coverage here.