Mobile phones disrupt teenagers' sleep

Another thing for parents to get anxious about

Mobile phones are having a major impact on the quality of sleep of a growing number of adolescents.

Text messaging on mobile phones is affecting the quality of sleep of almost half of 16 year olds, a Belgian study published in the Journal of Sleep Research says.

Many teenagers leave their mobile phone on while they are asleep. About 2500 children in Flanders (aged 13 years and 16 years respectively) were asked how often they were awoken at night by incoming text messages on their mobile phone. Among the 13 year olds, 13.4 per cent reported being woken up one to three times a month, 5.8 per cent once a week, 5.3 per cent several times a week and 2.2 per cent every night.

Among the 16 years old the effect is even stronger. Some 20.8 per cent were woken up between one and three times a month, 10.8 per cent once a week, 8.9 per cent several times a week, and 2.9 per cent every night, according to the University of Leuven study.

Leaving the phone off at night does not help much either. Two years ago another study in the medical journal The Lancet suggested that children who use mobile phones risk suffering memory loss, sleeping disorders and headaches.

Physicist Dr. Gerard Hyland raised fears over radiation caused by mobile phones, and said that children and teenagers under the age of 18 were vulnerable because their immune systems were less robust. Radiation is known to affect the brain rhythms, causing sleeping disorders. ®

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