Evening social media use linked to delayed sleep, study finds

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A new study conducted by psychiatrists from Duke University and Yale University has discovered a causal association between evening social media use and delayed sleep.

The study, which analyzed the habits of 44,000 Reddit users, has been published in the journal Sleep Medicine.

Previous studies have already established that exposure to blue light from digital devices can disrupt sleep patterns by affecting melatonin production.

This latest study suggests that posting on social media sites shortly before usual bedtime may also contribute to delayed sleep.

How the Study Was Conducted

The research team was curious about the potential influence of evening social media use on sleep patterns.

They decided to investigate by conducting a comprehensive analysis of user data on Reddit, a popular social media platform where users can post content and comment on others’ posts.

The team scrutinized a staggering 120 million posts made by 44,000 users over a span of 15 years.

By studying the habits of frequent Reddit users, they were able to establish what they referred to as “normal bedtimes”.

This enabled them to assess the impact of social media use shortly before these normal bedtimes.

Key Findings of the Study

The researchers discovered that users who posted on Reddit approximately one hour before their usual bedtime were much more likely to stay up later than usual.

On average, these users remained awake from one to three hours past their typical sleep time. Users who posted multiple times before their normal bedtime stayed up even later.

The team suggested that the anticipation of receiving a response from other users might lead to a rise in dopamine levels, making it more difficult for individuals to relax and fall asleep.

Prior research has linked increased dopamine levels with heightened mental activity and alertness, conditions not favorable for initiating sleep.

This new research reinforces the idea that evening social media use can have a significant impact on sleep patterns.

Future studies could further explore this connection and investigate potential strategies for mitigating the effects of evening screen time on sleep.

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The study was published in Sleep Medicine.

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