People with a digital subscriber line (DSL) access tend to sleep 25 minutes less than those without DSL. These people are also less likely to get enough sleep (7 to 9 hours) or to feel satisfied with the quality of their sleep. According  researchers at Bocconi University, Italy, and the University of Pittsburgh, USA, who produced the findings, the effect may be explained by time constraints in the morning and by the use of electronic devices in the evening. Their use throughout the day doesn’t effect the quality of sleep

Researchers crisscrossed broadband access data in Germany to surveys where individuals reported their sleep duration and quality. In the past studies have analyzed the effects of broadband access on electoral outcomes, social capital, fertility and crimes. This is the first time that scientists have examined the causal effect of the access to high-speed Internet on sleeping behavior.

Poor sleep is a major public health hazard, which some scholars deem as the most prevalent risky behavior in modern society. In developed countries, this is an increasing problem as more and more people forgo the recommend 7-9 hours of sleep, exposing themselves to detrimental outcomes on health and cognitive performance. In Germany alone, 200,000 working days are lost each year due to insufficient sleep, translating in an economic loss of $60bln, or about 1.6% of the country’s GDP, according to a report of RAND Corporation.

The research team’s conclusion was that access to high-speed Internet reduces both sleep duration and sleep satisfaction in individuals that face time constraints in the morning for work or family reasons.

“Individuals with DSL access tend to sleep 25 minutes less than their counterparts without DSL Internet. They are significantly less likely to sleep between 7 and 9 hours, the amount recommended by the scientific community, and are less likely to be satisfied with their sleep,” said Francesco Billari, Professor of Demography at Bocconi University, Milan.

The increased use of electronic devices in the bedroom before sleep is considered one of the main factors contributing to the sleep deprivation epidemic and access to high-speed internet promotes excessive electronic media use.

“Taken together, our findings suggest that there may be substantial detrimental effects of broadband internet on sleep duration and quality through its effects on technology use near bedtime. High-speed Internet makes it very enticing to stay up later to play video games, surf the web and spend time online on social media. Given the growing awareness of the importance of sleep quantity and quality for our health and productivity, providing more information on the risks associated with technology use in the evening may promote healthier sleep and have non-negligible effects on individual welfare and well-being. More research is needed to understand the behavioral mechanisms underlying Internet addiction and how to nudge individuals into healthier sleep practices,” the researchers concluded in the Journal of Economic Behavior.