An hour of screen time immediately before bed is fine for most teenagers, according to research by an Australian university.
But two hours is too much and likely to disrupt their sleep, said Associate Professor Michael Gradisar, a clinical psychologist at Flinders University in Adelaide.
He said a review of four years of studies at the university and around the world showed moderate technology use is not as harmful for adolescent sleep as many health professionals and parents believe.
“Experiments with video games show that if you give an experienced gamer a violent game before bed, their heart rate is not elevated and they sleep quite fine,” Gradisar said.
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It appears as if they have adjusted to using technology, he said.
“This evidence challenges the idea that sleep problems in young people are because of technology.“
A more common reason is anxiety or “body clock mistiming“, which is similar to what happens when a person has jet lag.
“For the majority of the population, an hour of technology use before bed seems fine. But anything longer than two hours appears to be detrimental to sleep.“
However, the Australasian Sleep Association said it was still best for teenagers to avoid technology for at least an hour before bed.
“Sleep is a complex biological process and further research is needed to translate the findings of this research into a recommendation,“ said a spokesman, Sadasivam Suresh, a paediatric sleep specialist.
“This research is valuable in adding information on actual sleep patterns in modern society. It is good science that helps us to understand sleep and health better.“