Apps and social media can disturb sleep cycle: study

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On the occasion of World Sleep Day, doctors at NIMHANS suggest that you check your internet use before bedtime. Here’s why.

The use of internet leads to people delaying bedtime by more than one and a half hours. A study by the Service for Healthy Use of Technology (SHUT) clinic at National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience (NIMHANS) in 2016, found that internet use was making people go to bed 1.6 hours (100 minutes) late and wake up 1.5 hours (90 minutes) late.

The study, which was published in the January edition of Indian Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, proves that the quality of sleep is largely affected by a person’s inclination to use smartphones, laptops and other devices before they go to sleep.

Although it showed that the quality of sleep was above average, researchers observed that most people usually checked their phones and tablets at least four times after going to bed.

Sleep disorders can contribute to conditions such as heart disease and anxiety. According to a study conducted by a private hospital in Gurgaon, it was found that about 90 per cent of young heart attack patients were individuals who did not sleep well, thereby establishing a link between sleep cycle and cardiac health.

“The application keeping most people up was WhatsApp (58.5%),” said Dr Manoj Kumar Sharma, one of the lead authors of the study, who is an additional professor at SHUT clinic.
“This was followed by Facebook usage (32.6%). Messenger applications other than WhatsApp and Hike were used rarely (65.7%).Gmail was shown to be frequently used by participants (45.3%).”

The research also found that 60% of the participants used their mobile phone along with devices such as desktops, laptops and tablets at home, and 42% of them said that they postponed work just to be on the internet.