Technology infringes on students’ sleep

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By Andrew Dinsmoor Contributor

It’s 2010. We live in an era congested with Facebook, instant text messaging and on-demand Internet. I know many students spend more class time checking their friend’s Facebook wall or watching “The Office” on Hulu.com than paying attention to their professors. In a technologically-savvy world, this trend is only increasing.  

These days, many students don’t fall asleep to a comforting book or golden silence. They fall asleep to their cell phones buzzing with “A new message from (insert name here)!”

The last thing I see every night and the first thing I see each morning is my cell phone.

Moreover, as college courses and daily tasks become increasingly dependent on Internet use, laptops and web browsers are a college student’s best friends. While it can easily be argued that this constant reliance on technology is unhealthy, a better question is: how does it also affect our sleeping patterns?  

“Text messaging and other electronic communication were linked to excessive movement during sleep, insomnia and leg pain at night in students ages 8 to 22,” said Dr. Peter G. Polos of JFK Medical Center in N.J., who recently conducted a study on the matter.

The subjects of the pilot study were JFK Sleep Clinic patients with an average age of 14.5 and were surveyed via a modified version of the Children’s Sleep Habits Questionnaire. The study reported that kids who use the Internet and text message before bed may not only suffer poorer sleep at night but also have mood and cognitive problems during the day.  

How accurate is this study? Do you feel as though texting your girlfriend before bed affects your mood the next day?  Research shows that it does.

A survey done by the National Sleep Foundation found only about 20 percent of teens get the nine hours of sleep they need each night.  Specialists recommend between eight and ten hours. Not getting enough sleep inhibits body maintenance, hinders learning abilities and adversely affects overall well-being.  

The digital devices that surround us in our daily life with flashing lights and beeping sounds keep us from getting this recommended amount of sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to slower thought processing, irritability, depression and, thus, can be a reason for your bad day. While technology has its benefits, a better night’s sleep are not among them.  

Cell phones, computers and televisions distract us. They keep our brains wound-up. Falling asleep directly after sending a text or watching Jay Leno leads to a tougher night’s sleep.

Today’s society runs on a 24/7 schedule.  People talk to their friends and family primarily through communication devices rather than through face-to-face conversations. America values bigger, better and faster; technology is typically the key to all of the above. Keeping pace with such a society has its benefits, but it also has serious implications. Tonight, will you tune out from the daily grind long enough to give your body what it needs? If your answer is no, you could pay for it tomorrow.

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