KEY POINTS

  • King’s College London researchers surveyed around 1,043 students in 2019
  • Data was compared to the number of hours each subject slept for on a weeknight
  • Smartphone addiction is not a recognized psychiatric disorder

A recent study has found that smartphone addiction among college students was affecting their sleep. 

Frontiers in Psychiatry published a peer-reviewed study Tuesday, which said close to 40% of the individuals who were interviewed at the time admitted they were dependent on their handsets.

These numbers were supplied by King’s College London researchers who surveyed around 1,043 students in 2019. The ages of the participants ranged from 18 to 30 years old. The information gathered included the time period during which smartphone usage was at its peak and the number of hours the device was used.

The data was then compared to the number of hours each subject slept for on a weeknight and the overall quality. Results gathered showed approximately 38.9% were addicted to smartphones. From this group, 68.7% confirmed their quality of sleep was poor.

On the other hand, those who were not addicted amounted to only around 57.1%. The research team also came up with an observation wherein factors such as how soon one stops using a smartphone before bed can lead to addiction or not.

An excerpt from the study's findings read: “Smartphone addiction was associated with poor sleep, independent of duration of usage, indicating that length of time should not be used as a proxy for harmful usage.”

Before an individual was classified as addicted, they had to meet a specific set of criteria, which included those who regularly missed certain activities or felt troubled when unable to interact with their handset or could not regulate their time spent on their smartphones.

An article published on CNN pointed out the analysts involved were aware of the research’s limitations. In fact, the team also wrote details of what seems to be a disclaimer.

The study also stated, "Should smartphone addiction become firmly established as a focus of clinical concern, those using their phones after midnight or using their phones for 4 or more hours per day are likely to be at high risk."

As it stands right now, there are no international health groups that recognize “smartphone addiction” as a psychiatric disorder. Thus, it is difficult for any study to conclude that what is speculated to be a contributor to sleep disorders exists.

However, experts do have some suggestions to help people sleep better and avoid an addiction or unnecessary smartphone usage. These include scheduled timeouts, removal of social media apps, meditating/working out and switching visuals to grayscale.

sleep4 Sticking to a bedtime routine every night should help you fix your body clock. Photo: dubslabs.com