Adolescents' circadian clock and the vicious circle of media use, exposure to light at night, sleep loss and risk behaviors

Sleep is a key element in adolescent development. However, teens are spending increasing amounts of time online with health risks related to excessive use of electronic media (computers, smartphones, tablets, consoles, etc.). This excessive use is negatively associated with daytime functioning and sleep outcomes.

Adolescent sleep becomes irregular, shortened and delayed in relation with later sleep onset and early waking time due to early school starting times on weekdays which results in rhythm desynchronization and sleep loss.

In addition, exposure of adolescents to the numerous electronic devices prior to bedtime has become a great concern because LEDs emit much more blue light than white incandescent bulbs and compact fluorescent bulbs and have therefore a greater impact on the biological clock.

A large number of adolescents move to evening chronotype and experience a misalignment between biological and social rhythms which, added to sleep loss, results in:

- fatigue
- daytime sleepiness
- behavioral problems (problematic media use, alcohol consumption, binge drinking, smoking habits, stimulant use)
- poor academic achievement

The permanent social jet lag resulting in clock misalignment experienced by a number of adolescents should be considered as a matter of public health.


Disruption of adolescents' circadian clock: The vicious circle of media use, exposure to light at night, sleep loss and risk behaviors. - PubMed - NCBI

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