FYI: Children’s Sleep Problems Predate The Smartphone And iPad Age

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The sleeplessness of children is always up for debate when discussing how little they’re getting. Quite a few articles that I’ve perused in recent months point to the increased use of texting, smartphones, and mobile gadgets. How is your son or daughter supposed to get a full night’s rest when they have emails to check? Facebook statuses to update? Tidbits to tweet? Yet while combing through this piece on children’s sleep in The New York Times, one cited study proved that the exhaustion of kids was noted before the age of smartphones.

Jane E. Brody at The Times writes:

Even in 1998, before smartphones and iPads could be blamed for teenagers’ sleep deprivation, a study of more than 3,000 adolescents by two sleep specialists, Amy R. Wolfson of the College of the Holy Cross and Mary A. Carskadon of Brown University, found that high school students who got poor grades slept an average of 25 minutes less and went to bed 40 minutes later than those who got A’s and B’s.

In a laboratory study of 40 high school students, Dr. Carskadon and colleagues found that nearly half the students who began school at 7:20 a.m. were “pathologically sleepy” at 8:30 a.m. Calling such early start times “abusive,” she said, “These kids may be up and at school at 8:30, but I’m convinced their brains are back on the pillow at home.”

What is important about this research is that it reveals how early call times in schools don’t in fact prioritize the sleep patterns of kids. Without a buzzing iPhone on their nightstands, these high school kids weren’t waking up until perhaps an hour or so into their school day. Modern technology and increased WIFI mobility may be contributing to the problem of children’s exhaustion but, as this study indicates, there might be other prominent factors to consider.