Is the Late-Night Smartphone Use turning Teenagers into Daytime Zombies?

Is the Late-Night Smartphone Use turning Teenagers into Daytime Zombies?
By Ahmad Amirali

I usually work late at night and my friends, school colleagues and even my students mostly aware of my schedule. As a result of which my ex-students mostly approach me at night even after midnight. Yesterday, a similar kind of thing happened and one of my previous year students texted me, asking my suggestions about his career choice. It was quite late at night, and unintentionally I asked him, ‘don’t you want to sleep it’s quite late?’ He replied with a usual excuse, ‘Sir, I normally sleep that late’. This reminds me of the whole term experience which I had with this kid. His class performance was above average; however, he always looks like a Somnambulist (walking in one’s sleep or under hypnosis) even during the day time in school. As children grow and move to teenage level, they become at the significant stage of their growth and development that they need more sleep than adults. (Previous Article: Sleep and Teenagers: Why Teens Need More Sleep Than Adults). The result of not having enough sleep can be devastating to teen’s mental and physical health – making them a walking ‘Daytime Zombie’. There are many factors that keep teens from getting enough sleep – one of the factors is the use of late-night smartphones.

Somnambulism is a mental phenomenon marked by chronic drowsiness as if someone is sleepwalking his or her way through the day. Poor sleep not only subpar levels of performances at work or school but it also develops anxiety and depression in the body due to reduced physical and cognitive function caused by lack of sleep. It doesn’t matter what age level you belong to if you sleep with your smartphone next to your bed without turning off the ringer, the odds are that your phone probably wakes you up during the night. Being woken up randomly by the vibration and rings of your mobile phone will make you tired and somewhat somnambulistic next day.

I know, majority of champions will be going to defend their untimely use of the smartphone by pointing out, the so-called, ‘Night Shift’ feature which is nowadays common in most of the midrange smartphones. It reduces the ‘blue light’ that emits from the smartphone’s screen. Blue light is the most disruptive colour of light that hinder melatonin, a chemical in the body that promotes sleep. However, even turning-on the blue light feature will not going to help your tired and exhausted eyes which keep staring that screen since morning. Moreover, by looking at your screen in the middle of the night, to scan an incoming tweet or WhatsApp text, ‘wakes up your brain’ and even if you go right back to sleep, you will not be having a quality sleep.

What Should Be the Remedies?

Some of the obvious advice which I can give to teenagers and their parents are: (Source: Science News for Students

  • Turn your phone off and put it in another room when you’re sleeping.
  • Don’t use your phone for at least 30 minutes before bed. It’s fine to use your phone for up to 3 to 4 hours a day, but after that, there is a link to sleeping too little.
  • Keep all electronic devices out of the bedroom to practice good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene means teens should go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends to maintain a sleep schedule.
  • Turn off your smartphone (and all other digital devices) one hour before bedtime to minimise the blue light exposure to your brain.

According to MSU, ‘smartphones are almost perfectly designed to disrupt sleep, they keep us mentally engaged late into the evening, they make it hard to detach from work so we can relax and fall asleep.’ Interestingly, we all know these facts which I describe above. However, still, we all, especially teens and adolescents, continue disrupting our sleep and adopting more of a ‘daytime Zombie’ lifestyle.

Sleep well 😊

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