Addiction to social networking leads to sleep deprivation

Millions of Britons are losing valuable sleep each night because they are addicted to social networking according to findings from a new sleep report.

Gone are the days when Britons liked nothing better then to be tucked up in bed with a mug of cocoa and a good book. In today's modern society, 72% of adults spend their time in bed before falling asleep updating or checking their friends status updates on Facebook.

The study commissioned by Travelodge hotels surveyed 6,000 adults to explore the nation's bedtime habits and key findings revealed we have become a nation of 'Online-A-Holics'. So bad is the problem that seven out of ten Britons are tweeting, poking, surfing and writing on each others' walls instead of going to sleep. In addition 18% of adults send a daily night-time tweet to their followers and one in five Britons catch up on tweets from their favourite celebrities and friends in bed.

On average each night Britons are spending 16 minutes in bed socially networking with pals - with the peak chatting time being 9.45pm. This time spent social networking is affecting Britons sleep quota as on average respondents reported they are getting just six hours and 21 minutes sleep per night. (This is one hour and 39 minutes below the recommended quota of eight hours of sleep per night.)

Dr Michael Hastings, an expert in sleep patterns and body clocks and a research scientist for the Medical Research Council at Addenbrooke's Hospital (Cambridge University Hospitals), said "From a sleep point of view, this news is not good at all as it's having a huge negative effect on people's sleep. Adults don't realise what impact using computers, mobile phones and other gadgets before falling sleep is having on their night's sleep. Being exposed to bright light from computer and mobile phone screens while in bed completely delays the brain and body's ability to get to sleep."

"As a result, people are not able to get to sleep as quickly as they should and aren't getting the required amount of sleep they need each night. A lot of people think that when they go to sleep their brain is turned off but that is not the case. The brain simply engages in a different activity where it stores important memories and gets rid of information that is not needed. If people aren't getting enough sleep each night their long-term memory is most definitely being affected and using social networking sites and technology before they go to sleep is worsening this."

"The sad thing is social networking is doing exactly what it was invented for - to grab people's attention and make them addicted.

Corinne Sweet, Psychologist, comments on the research findings: "We have become a nation of 'online-a-holics'. This addiction for social networking supports Maslow's theory of humans having three basic needs. One of these being the need for love, affection, belonging and self-worth and Facebook provides the perfect solution to fulfil this requirement. By socially networking we can fulfil our need to communicate and share our news in one hit with all of our contacts across the world 24/ 7 and obtain a comprehensive snapshot of what they are up to at any given time."

"Like all things there is a time and place and social networking should not take place between the sheets as it can be detrimental to our well being. By texting, tweeting, surfing and writing on our walls in bed we are nodding off with a busy mind which impacts upon our quality of sleep during the night. Bedtime should be associated with calming down and chilling out with a good book, listening to easy music, catching up with your partner or enjoying a love-making session in order to get a night of deep, nourishing sleep. Make time earlier in the evening for social networking as it will help you distress after a hard day and prepare you for bedtime".

Further research findings revealed that 65% respondents stated the very last thing they do before nodding off at night is to check their mobile phone for text messages. On average Britons will spend around nine minutes every night texting before falling asleep. Four out of ten adults reported they have a regular text communication with friends in bed every night.

So bad is the obsession with bed-texting that 20% of Britons surveyed confessed they have stopped mid-way whilst making love with their partner to check on an incoming text message.

Corinne Sweet, Psychologist said: "'No sex, Im texting' is the new British bedtime motto, it seems but couples need to be aware it can feel quite insulting to come second (as it were) to a text which can result in serious problems within a relationship. It's a good idea for love and intimacy to really blossom, if all mobiles and laptops can be left out of the boudoir, at least during love-making. Nothing is more annoying than the constant bleep of electronics to interrupt your night-time bliss".

Twenty seven per cent of adults surveyed also reported they are regularly awoken during the night by an incoming text message. Whilst a quarter of workers (25%) reported they frequently get a late night work related text from their boss.

Fifty one per cent of British adults surveyed stated the very first thing they do when they wake up - before even getting out of bed is to check their mobile phone for new texts or emails. One in ten respondents reported they will respond to any texts that have come through the night before getting out of bed.

As well as socially networking, a quarter of the nation (25%) does their weekly grocery shopping between the sheets. Whilst one in ten adults settles any outstanding bills online before nodding off. Over a third of the nation (35%) likes to surf celebrity news websites in bed for the latest showbiz gossip before slumbering.

With the festive season fast approaching 47% of respondents reported they are spending their time before falling asleep shopping for Christmas presents and making the necessary festive season arrangements.

One in ten Singletons surveyed admitted they like to check out online dating websites before falling asleep in the hope of finding their perfect partner.

The study also revealed the timehonoured, faithful alarm clock is set to become obsolete with 84% of adults now using their mobile phone as an alarm clock to help wake them up in the morning. In contrast in 2008 only 34%* of Britons used their mobile phone as a wake-up call. On average 36 of adults will get out of bed immediately once the alarm goes off whilst 42% like to press the snooze button a couple of times.

One in ten adults will set their daily alarm half an hour earlier than they need to get - so that have 30mins of snooze time every day.

Travelodge Sleep Director, Leigh McCarron said: "Alarm clocks have been shown to cause heart rhythm irregularities which can cause a heart attack. The alarm clock's strident ringing tone can be a shock to the body and mind. My recommendation is to wake up naturally as the awakening is part of a natural sleep-wake cycle and it can help you feel less groggy. Make your last thought before sleeping to be your intention to wake up at a particular time and sleep in complete darkness to aid a natural wake-up call.



The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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