Sleep and Technology Don't Mix: Sleep Poll

Too Much Technology and Caffeine, Too Little Sleep Plague Teens and Adults, Survey Finds

From the WebMD Archives


Sleep and Technology. Using electronic devices before bedtime was common, with 60% on average overall watching TV, 39% using cell phones, 36% laptops or other computers, 21% phone, 8% video games, and 29% music devices.

Sleep experts discourage screen time before bed, Rosenberg says. ''There are really two reasons for that," he says. "One has to do with the light exposures that people get with the computer screen [and other screens]. The light suppresses a hormone that is supposed to tell the brain it's time to sleep. And that hormone is melatonin."

The other reason? "Your sleep can be delayed because of the excitement of being involved with the computer [and other devices]," he says.

About one-fourth of those polled said they leave their cell phone ringers on at bedtime, and about 10% say they are awakened at least a few times a week in the middle of the night by phone calls, texts, or emails. That was reported more by younger respondents, including 18% of teens and 20% of people aged 19 to 29.

Drowsy Driving. Sleepiness took a toll on driving, the pollsters found, with drowsy driving surprisingly common.

Half of people aged 19 to 29 said they drove drowsy at least once in the past month. About one in 10 teens and 19 to 29-year-olds say they drive drowsy once or twice weekly.

Drowsy driving is blamed for more than 100,000 crashes annually, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, including 1,550 deaths.

Coping Methods. Excessive caffeine and naps were often reported as coping mechanisms for lack of sleep.

The average person on a weekday reported drinking about three 12-oz caffeinated beverages, with little variation among age groups.

''This is a reflection of coping with either sleep deprivation or a sleep disorder," Rosenberg tells WebMD.

Naps are another way the survey respondents said they try to combat lack of sleep. More than half of the generation Y and Z respondents reported at least one nap during the work week.

Sleep Poll: Second Opinion

This year's survey focuses on technology, and its effect on sleep is particularly important, says Michael J. Thorpy, MD, professor of clinical neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University and director of the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.