Smartphones and sleep problems in teens

FORT MYERS, Fla. – A new study is shedding light on just how important it is for your teen to shut off their devices before bedtime.

The study, published recently in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, found smartphones and other electronics may lower levels of melatonin, a hormone that helps us sleep.

“There’s a perfect storm of things happening with teens,” explained local sleep specialist Dr. Jose Colon. “One is that they actually do require about nine hours of sleep a night… The other thing is that naturally they have a delay in their circadian system where actually they’re supposed to be up a little bit later.”

Dr. Colon said he often uses a medical device to monitor light intake and sleep in his teen patients.

“I’ll see right before sleep onset, a really big light exposure and I’ve noticed that more light exposure we’ve seen on these medical devices, the longer it takes to get them to sleep,” he said.

And often, he said that light exposure is coming from a teen’s electronic device. But he does offer some advice for parents.

“There are times that a teenager can show a responsibility and there are times when they need help and one thing that the parent can do, is they can take that phone out and put the charger in the kitchen so that when it’s overnight, you can just charge it outside of the room,” Dr. Colon said.

Also, Dr. Colon recommends helping your teen cultivate a relaxation routine before bedtime and make sure that they put the electronics away or turn them off about half-an-hour to an hour before bed.

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