56% of parents of sleep-deprived teens blame electronics

Social media, cellphones to blame.

Photo by Tracy Le Blanc from Pexels

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - According to the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health at the University of Michigan, 43 percent of parents said their teenager has trouble falling or staying asleep, and more than half those parents said electronics, in particular social media and their cellphones, are to blame.

According to the poll, 56 percent of parents said their teenager cannot sleep or stay asleep because of electronics. Other reasons included homework or other activities (43 percent), worries about school (31 percent) and concerns about social life (23 percent). Ten percent of parents said their teen has sleep problems because of a health condition or medication. 

About 25 percent of those parents said their teen experiences sleep issues once or twice per week, while another 18 percent believe it is three or more nights per week. 

"This poll suggests that sleep problems are common among teens and parents believe late-night use of electronics are a main contributor," said poll co-director Sarah Clark. "Teens' hectic schedules and homework load, as well as anxiety about school performance and peer relationships, also are seen by parents as contributing to sleep problems."

Fifty-four percent of parents polled said they have tried to get their teenager to do different things at home to help with their sleeping problems, including limiting caffeine at night (54 percent), turning off electronics and cellphones before bed (53 percent), having a snack before sleeping (44 percent) and using natural or herbal remedies like melatonin (36 percent). Another 28 percent of parents said their teenager has tried medication to address the issues.

Forty percent of parents of teens with frequent sleeping problems, as well as 22 percent of parents with teens with occasional sleeping problems, said they have talked to a doctor about it. Parents said the top recommendations they were given include turning off electronics and cellphones before bed, adhering to a regular sleep schedule, limiting caffeine and taking natural remedies. 

"Parents whose teens continue to have frequent sleep problems, despite following recommendations for healthy sleep hygiene, may want to talk with a health care provider, particularly when considering which type of medication to try," Clark said. "Inadequate or disrupted sleep can have long-lasting health effects that go beyond moodiness and irritability for teens. Sleep-deprived teens may have difficulty concentrating in school and those who drive have an increased risk of auto accidents. Inadequate sleep has also been linked to health problems ranging from obesity to depression."

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