Teenagers' late lie-ins due to lack of natural light

By YOU
29 March 2017

Avoiding gadgets and artificial lights at night as well as spending more time outdoors can help make getting up easier.

Teenagers who sleep in can no longer blame their hormones for being late, as new research claims that avoiding gadgets and artificial lights at night as well as spending more time outdoors can help make getting up easier.

Researchers from Surrey University and Harvard Medical School believe artificial lighting plays a big part in Western teenagers rolling out of their beds later.

To prove this, they conducted a study on 250,000 Europeans and two African tribes, comparing their sleeping habits. This determined that teenagers are the age group who are most affected by light, with blue light screens and simulated light affecting their body clocks.

Read more: Teenagers can lose almost half of their friends while at university

The younger generations in hunter-gatherer tribes, who spend their hours outside and are accustomed to the natural light, were found to rise easily at dawn.

Lead author Dr Anne Skeldon pointed out this study shows teenagers are not “programmed” to get up late, and that taking measures like putting their phones and tablets away at night could make getting up for studies in the morning a lot more straightforward.

“Teenagers do not get much natural light, because they are in school all day, then, because it is easier for them than for other age groups to stay up late, they keep the lights on and use smartphones and tablets into the night,” she explained of the findings, published in journal Scientific Reports.

Read more: Teenagers exposed to loud noises ‘could lose hearing by 30’

“We know from previous research that blue light from these devices has a particularly strong effect on body clocks. If these teenagers were hunter-gatherers and were not exposed to this artificial evening light, most of them would sleep no later than anyone else.”

This experiment follows a study conducted by King's College London and Cardiff University last year that warned parents to remove all electrical devices from their children’s bedroom to ensure a sound night’s sleep.

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