Sleep Disturbance Linked to Extreme Facebook, Twitter, Social Media Use: Study

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Jan 27, 2016 05:30 AM EST

Extreme use of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter may cause sleep disturbance at night, according to a new study.

A University of Pittsburgh study with the backing of National Institutes of Health found that 30 percent of those who experienced sleep disturbance were the most active social media users at night.

Lead author Dr. Jessica Levenon and colleagues surveyed more than 1,700 US adults ages 19 to 32 about their social media use. In their questionnaires, they asked users about 11 of the most popular social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Tumblr, Vine, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat and Google Plus. They found that the average user logs on to social media 61 minutes daily and looked at different social media accounts 30 times per week.

"This is one of the first pieces of evidence that social media use really can impact your sleep," Dr. Levenon said in a press release. "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 who reported to obsessively use social media had three times increased chance of sleep disturbances compared to those who used it less frequently. Those who were online on social media during the day had two times the risk of sleep disturbance.

"This may indicate that frequency of social media visits is a better predictor of sleep difficulty than overall time spent on social media," said Dr. Levenson. "If this is the case, then interventions that counter obsessive 'checking' behavior may be most effective."

In the past, those who lacked sleep may be preoccupied with work, study and projects but nowadays, social media may contribute to it.

"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," Levenson said, Tech Crunch reports.

However, more research needs to be conducted if constant social media use causes sleep disturbance or if sleep deprivation encourages people to log in more on their social media, NY Daily News notes.

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