Young man reclines in bed, looking at smartphone and drinking coffee.

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Obsessively Checking Social Media? You May Need More Sleep.

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Obsessively Checking Social Media? You May Need More S

If you ever feel that you spend too much time on Facebook, you may want to take a look at your sleep habits.


Scientists say a lack of sleep might lead people to browse their Facebook profiles too frequently.


“When you get less sleep, you’re more prone to distraction,” lead author Gloria Mark, an informatics professor at the University of California, Irvine, says in a statement. “If you’re being distracted, what do you do? You go to Facebook. It’s lightweight, it’s easy, and you’re tired.”


The new findings were presented at a conference in San Jose, California.


Previous research, published in the journal Preventive Medicine, has suggested that social media overuse may contribute to sleep deficiencies in young adults. But the authors of the new study wondered whether the reverse could also be true.


Mark and her team followed 76 college students for one week. The scientists equipped the students’ computers and smartphones with software that tracked their online activity. The researchers looked at things like how frequently the students switched between apps, how they slept, and how engaged they were at work.


Sleep-deprived students tended to spend more time browsing Facebook than those who regularly got enough sleep. The less sleep students got, the more frequently they switched between apps, which suggests sleep loss leads to higher distractibility.


Similarly, other research, published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, has suggested that tired people are more prone to distraction.


People who are sleep deprived may not be as mentally sharp as they would be if they got enough sleep. They may unconsciously seek out mindless activities, like using Facebook, to avoid overexerting their drowsy brains, the researchers posit. Indeed, the students in the study seemed to view social media use as intellectually undemanding.


“It’s just easy. Scroll down, open a funny picture, move on to the next thing,” one of the students told the scientists.


The new findings add to a growing body of research on the complex relationship between sleep and the use of modern technology, the researchers conclude. People who don’t get enough sleep in the first place may find themselves in the vicious circle of spending too much time on social media, which can then impact their ability to sleep well.



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