Scientists link broadband internet access to sleep deprivation

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 & Organization.

'150 friends rule' could help you beat your smartphone addiction

 

Entrepreneur Tanya Goodin, author of OFF.
Your Digital Detox for a Better Life
, and founder of Time to Log Off, shares her digital wellness rules, starting from keeping  social media contacts to a maximum total of 150 rather having a network of hundreds or even thousands.

1. THE 150 RULE

Psychologists believe we can only comfortably maintain a network of about 150 stable relationships. Prune your connections on social media and delete anyone who isn’t adding any value to your life, or those whose feeds just make you feel a bit rubbish. Identify your personal 150-person team and use social media to enhance those real-world relationships, not substitute for them.

Studies show that those that passively scroll on social networks, never posting or commenting themselves, are actually less happy than those who actively engage in online communities. If you’ve got a social media account just to watch what everyone else is doing, delete it now.

3. LESS WHATSAPP

Leaving a friends or family WhatsApp group can be a political minefield, but being in multiple message groups can eat up hours of your day – especially if other members of the group use them for stream of consciousness chatting all day long.

If you regularly come back to your phone to hundreds of unread group messages either set some firm ground rules for all the groups you’re in, or leave them.

4. MARIE KONDO YOUR SMARTPHONE

Using the Marie Kondo Method  and regularly tidying up your smartphone is an essential step to using it more efficiently. Looking at a crowded  phone screen is like looking at a cluttered desk ; it drains your energy and lowers your motivation. Once a month go through your phone and delete any unused apps. Then set-up named folders to organize everything on your screen clearly. For example you can keep travel apps  separate from social media apps reducing the temptation to skip from one to another

5. ASSIGN A PHONE HOME

Keeping your smartphone on you, while trying to exercise self-control to stop checking it, is a recipe for disaster. Designate a place at home and one at work to put it  away when you need to focus. One study has shown that even if face down and switched off the mere sight of our smartphones can seriously distract us and reduce our available IQ by 10 points. Just put it away.

6. TALK NOT TEXT

Make it a rule that once you’ve exchanged a maximum of four messages without resolving something you terminate the text and talk face to face – or pick up the phone. Keep text for information, flirting and words of love, not haranguing and hectoring.

7. MAKE YOUR HOMESCREEN WORK HARDER

Humans respond really well to strong visual cues; that’s why software companies use banners, ticks and badges on apps. Make this work for you by setting a strong visual reminder on your home screen to put your phone down and go and do something else. If every time you pick it up you see a picture telling you that you really should be doing something else, eventually it will sink it.