Background The percentage of adults spending >40hrs/week online has increased by 14% in the last decade.1 Increased screen time is associated with poor sleep quality, which in turn influences memory and attention. This study tested the hypothesis that increased daily screen time was associated with significantly decreased sleep quality.
Methods Data was collected, with ethical approval, over three mornings (May 2019) from 399 randomly selected members of the public in South Kensington. A questionnaire with 15 questions, including age, gender, total daily screen time, sleep onset latency, and daytime alertness was used. A representative sample size of 369 was calculated, based on the daily footfall of Exhibition Road (32,422). 16 responses were excluded due to incomplete questionnaires, sleep disorders and jet lag.
Results Data from participants aged 18–34 was selected for analysis (n=223, 55.9% of the total responses). Respondents who answered ‘no’ to the question ‘Have you had enough sleep to feel alert?’ had a significantly higher mean total screen time than those who answered ‘yes’ (figure 1: Mean±SEM, alert (‘yes’): 10± 0.38 hours, not alert (‘no’): 11.2±0.45 hours, p=0.02). There was no significant correlation between the total daily screen time and sleep onset latency (Figure 2: spearman’s ρ=0.059 and p=0.38).
Conclusion The main finding of this study was that increased total daily screen time was associated with reduced daytime alertness, and a reduced sleep quality in members of the public aged 18–34 years. Although, screen time did not have a significant impact on sleep onset latency. This research could potentially raise awareness about the impact of screen time on sleep, and help inform future research into this area.
Acknowledgements With special thanks to our fellow Sleep CRI project members for their contribution to data collection.
Ofcom. A decade of digital dependency. Available from: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/latest/features-and-news/decade-of-digital-dependency [Accessed 04.06.19]
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