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Texting after the lights go out takes a toll on students’ sleep quality and academic performance, recent research shows. Teens who use electronic devices excessively before bed tend to sleep less and be more tired throughout the day, according to a 2015 study from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. And going against this natural rhythm can cause students to become less efficient when it comes to school performance.
Researchers surveyed students at three NJ high schools and examined more than 1,500 responses. The study, recently published online in the Journal of Child Neurology, found that students who turned off their devices or messaged for less than 30 minutes after lights out had significantly better grades than those who messaged for more than a half hour in the dark. They also pointed out that short wavelength “blue light”—the light emitted from a digital device that acts as a stimulant—can delay melatonin release, making it harder to fall asleep. These effects are intensified when people look at smartphones and tablets in a dark room.
Getting text messages with alerts and light emission once you’re asleep can also disrupt circadian rhythm, which is regulated by the body’s internal clock.
Rapid eye movement [REM] sleep is the period of sleep most important to learning, memory consolidation and social adjustment in adolescents. When falling asleep is delayed but rising time is not, REM sleep is cut short, and your teen won’t be as well-rested the next day. Got a chronically sleepy kid roaming the house? Make sure she turns her phone off 30 minutes before bedtime.