Late-Night Media Use Disrupts Sleep

Morning tends to come up before teens have even fallen asleep because they stay up so late at night on their phones. This means that teens stay up most of the night on their phones when their parents think they are sleeping. Sleep is the condition with which each of us is familiar from the very first hours of our lives. Sleep is essential for humans, especially teenagers because it is needed for our body and brain. Sleep is rest that is needed to restore the energy of brain cells after being awake. It is a physiological need of the body, which appears to be a deep protective inhibition, that prevents fatigue and can deplete the nerve cells. Sleep is one of the most important things as a human being. When teenagers refuse to put sleep first, it only hurts themselves. Sleep is something that needs to be taken seriously and the phones need to be put away before all teens become sleep deprived because of it.

Teenagers have becoming so addicted to their phones at night that it is affecting their sleep schedule. Some teens may even receive sleep deprivation from staring at the screens for so long. Sleep deprivation can have serious consequences for teens. It is a term often used to describe sleeplessness or lack of sleep. Teenagers suffer through this the most because they have a tendency to be addicted to their phones at night. An article shows how one of the consequences teens go through because of using social media at night is sleep deprivation. That same article states that, “In our analyses, we found that teens who spent more time online and on social media were more likely to sleep less. Time spent watching television had a much weaker link to fewer hours of sleep, and teens who spent more time with their friends in person or on sports or exercise actually slept more.” (Twenge, 2017). This quote explicitly shows how the teens that are consistently checking their social media at night are the ones who are becoming sleep deprived. Looking at texts and scrolling through all different platforms at night, is what leads to disturbed sleep. 

Do teens have trouble getting to sleep or sleep fitfully because their brains are busy processing the mixed signals of social media? Social media is an addictive platform that allows people to share their thoughts, information, and ideas. It is mostly videos, posts, pictures, and texts that people scroll through at night. It also contains personal information that people find intriguing. The brain is completely busy with all of the information it is bombarded with at night that it has no time to relax. The whole point of sleep is to rest your brain and body so that the next day it is refreshed and ready. Having trouble sleeping is very common for teens because they have become addicted to their phones. When teens are constantly looking at their phones and taking in all of this new information on the social media platforms, it is very distracting and hard for the brain to relax. 

Do teens sleep less soundly because their active brains are never calm enough for REM sleep? REM sleep stands for rapid eye movement. As stated in an article about REM sleep, “REM sleep plays an important role in brain development as well as other functions including mood, dreaming, and memory.” (Stibich, 2022). This shows how not having REM sleep will affect multiple parts in the brain. REM sleep also helps to ensure better mental concentration and mood regulation, which are two things that are important to your daily work performance and quality of life. During REM sleep, your eyes move rapidly behind your closed eyes, your heart rate speeds up, and your breathing becomes irregular. Rem sleep can definition make teenagers brains less calm especially if they were actively on their phones for half the night and not actually sleeping. Being deprived of REM sleep interferes with memory formation. However, memory problems associated with a loss of REM sleep could be due to overall sleep disruption, since those often occur together. Not having a sufficient sleep schedule and staying awake on the internet all night will also affect the REM sleep. An article states that, “following a sleep schedule can help maximize the amount of quality sleep, including REM sleep, that you get each night.” (Stibich, 2022). Not receiving REM sleep can be the reason that teens are sleeping less soundly because the brain cannot function and have REM sleep with the constant phone use at night.  

Does the alertness to possible notifications change the value of sleep for teens who are more interested in staying in touch overnight than being asleep? Notifications are the texts, emails, or calls that you receive on your phone. These notifications let you know what’s new, what you missed, or any other news. People will want to check their phones after ever noise which will be nonstop, and this can be deeply disrupting the time that they have to sleep. When people are ready for bed, they may stay alert in case of any upcoming notifications that may buzz throughout the night. This can be something that disrupts sleep because it does not allow our brain to fully relax or for you to be fully asleep. An article mentions, “It is not uncommon for notifications and alerts to arrive on your iPhone as you hit the bed for a sound sleep. These frequent text messages, apps, or email notifications can also affect your sleeping habits. That’s simply because we tend to check these notifications out of curiosity instead of avoiding them.” Because teens are so nosy and concerned for their notifications, they will jump up to check their phones while supposed to be sleeping. This is a major problem and the continuous notifications, buzzes, alerts, and other noises from the phone can become a gigantic distraction when trying to fall asleep and will make teens sleep deprived. 


Twenge, J. (2017, October). Teens are sleeping less. Why? Smartphones. PBS WHYY.

Stibich, M. (2022, November). What Is REM Sleep?. verywellmind.

Agarwal, M. (2023, February). How to Automatically Silence Notifications on iPhone At Night. WebTrickz.

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