Studies show that teenage students suffer from sleep deprivation – which could be affecting their learning.
The culprit? Blue light emitted from electronic devices such as mobile phones, computers and televisions.
Viewing blue light in the hours before going to sleep is thought to disrupt the body’s natural clock cycles, known as circadian rhythms. This is because it affects the level of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, making it harder to fall asleep.
Changes in sleep patterns can shift the body clock and lead to severe health complications.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens need between 8 and 10 hours of sleep a night to function at their best.
However, teenagers’ poor sleep could also be the result of the hormonal changes experienced during puberty. Studies show that while in adults, melatonin is released at around 10pm, teenagers do not experience this release until 1am.
Sleep deprivation in teenage students can lead to weakened memory, a reduced ability to learn, increased risk of depression and a build-up of neurotoxin (a poison which acts on the nervous system), all of which make it even harder for teenagers to get a good night’s sleep. Lack of sleep can also make teenagers more susceptible to skin diseases, such as acne.
We conducted a poll, asking 24 students and 4 teachers at CCHSG about their use of blue-light emitting devices in the evenings. 82% admitted to using electronic devices within an hour before going to bed.
Several teachers were also interviewed about how far they agreed with the hypothesis that using electronic devices late at night affects a student’s ability to learn.
Mr Nachman, Head of Computing, said: “It’s the draw to keep using electronic devices, even though students know they are tired, which is the problem.”
Mrs Davison, Head of Languages, said: “If the students aren’t getting enough sleep, that’s not a good thing.”
She added: “There should be a balance: students should be doing the things they enjoy but they should also get to bed at a suitable time.”
Studies in three Scottish schools suggest 52% of teenagers are sleep deprived. One study had 20% of participants reporting falling asleep in class in the previous fortnight.
Experts recommended using settings and apps that automatically shift screens on phones and other devices to dimmer, softer lights at night, as well as turning off electronics at least two hours before going to bed.
Results of our survey