The study covered 40 students sent, on average, 33.5 texts or emails per school night after bedtime -- from 10 minutes to four hours after ''lights out," says researcher Peter G. Polos, MD, attending physician at the JFK Medical Center sleep laboratory in Edison, N.J.
He is due to present his findings this week at CHEST 2010, the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians in Vancouver, British Columbia.
''It reaffirms my suspicion that the availability of these media to children can or will have a significant impact on their quality and quantity of sleep, Most of the 40 students reported either learning, behavioral, or cognitive issues. This [emailing and texting] is more stimulatory than television, I think," Polos told WebMD.
Dr. Polos and his colleagues surveyed the students, ages 8 to 22, with an average age of 14.5, who had come to the sleep clinic on their sleep habits. More than 77% of the students had persistent problems getting to sleep, he says. The team found boys are more likely to surf the Internet and play games online after bedtime, while girls are more likely to use their cell phone or send text messages.
The 33.5 emails and texts were sent to about four people during a school night.
The average number of awakenings per night due to media was one.
The average number of texts sent per month including weekend nights after bedtime was 3,404 per person.
The older the student, the more time he or she was likely to spend texting and emailing after bedtime.
Polos found. “That number reflects a portion of children who were excessively using the media.”
The pilot study, Polos says, suggests that bedtime media use "may have an adverse impact on sleep hygiene and daytime function which may be significant." The study didn't prove cause and effect between late-night texting and emailing and impairments in daytime functioning, Polos says. But, he says, a student with a learning disability, for instance, who is also sleepy probably won't be performing at school at his best.
So make kids bedrooms a electronic free zone and make the healthy.