Study Finds Social Media Leads To Sleep Disturbance

Just when you thought it was safe to click on that funny Facebook video of an aardvark carrying a shovel to dig a hole under a cinderblock wall while a pair of Peruvian flute-players cavort in green onesies, researchers at the University Of Pittsburgh have found that social media wreaks havoc on your sleep patterns.

The bottom line? “Young adults who spend a lot of time on social media during the day or check it frequently throughout the week are more likely to suffer sleep disturbances than their peers who use social media less,” wrote researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

“This is one of the first pieces of evidence that social media use really can impact your sleep,” said researcher Jessica C. Levenson. “And it uniquely examines the association between social media use and sleep among young adults who are, arguably, the first generation to grow up with social media.”

Participants in the study spent 61 hours on social media per week and 30 percent had “high levels of sleep disturbance” meaning sleep reduced due to social media including swiping through Instagram and taking part in arguments on Facebook or Twitter. In some ways, this behavior may be a form of self medication. The team sampled 1,788 U.S. adults between ages 19 and 32.

“Difficulty sleeping may lead to increased use of social media, which may in turn lead to more problems sleeping. This cycle may be particularly problematic with social media because many forms involve interactive screen time that is stimulating and rewarding and, therefore, potentially detrimental to sleep,” said Leveson.

Obviously a single study associating sleep patterns with social media use isn’t quite sufficient to, say, force us off YikYak. However, it is definitely an interesting start to research that will inevitably find that our lives are all being ruined by reading posts by my dumb cousin on Twitter.