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Late sleep is endemic in youths: Technology and social demands impacting health

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In today's fast-paced world, where technology and social demands are constantly vying for our attention, getting enough sleep has become a challenge for young people. For many, staying up late and waking up later has become a usual way of life. With the rise of technology, the boundaries between work and leisure have blurred. This habit is starting to take a toll on the health and well-being of an entire generation.

Recent studies have shown that a significant percentage of young people are getting less than the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night, and many are feeling the consequences. From the decreased ability to concentrate and increased feelings of fatigue to the heightened risk of depression and anxiety, late sleep is becoming a generational habit with widespread consequences.

The core causes of this tendency are numerous and intricate, with technology and social media being the major contributors. The blue light emissions from devices have the potential to disrupt melatonin synthesis. Young people have trouble falling asleep since this hormone controls sleep. The obligations of school or job and late-night social events might sometimes cause bedtimes later.

Technology is having a massive impact on the sleep patterns of Gen Z, the generation born between 1995 and 2010. With technology becoming increasingly pervasive, young adults are more prone to tech addiction and insomnia. Smartphone use has been linked to increased sleep deprivation, which can lead to physical and mental health issues.

Today's generation has become very busy and active. They consequently have less time to do their regular tasks and exercise.

Taiyemul Islam, an A-level candidate at Manarat International School, said, "I tend to sleep at 2 to 3 am even after knowing I have to wake up at 6 to go to classes. For me, the main reason is scrolling mindlessly through social media at night after coming from a hectic academic schedule. While spoiling the time, I feel I'm doing this for refreshment. But every morning, I regret when I have to run to classes with half-red eyes and an irritating headache."

People often feel guilty for not following the conventional norms of early rising. This guilt can lead to a feeling of inadequacy, leading to late sleeping habits. Moreover, social pressure and expectations from family and peers can also affect our sleeping patterns. People might stay up late to meet the expectations of their friends or family members who are used to staying up late themselves.

There are some other factors too. Late-night social activities such as parties, concerts, or outings can push bedtimes later. On the other hand, engaging in activities that disrupt sleep, such as consuming caffeine before bedtime, can also lead to later bedtimes.

Depression, anxiety, and stress can also impact sleep patterns and make it harder for young people to fall asleep at a reasonable hour. For Taiyemul, another interesting reason is, "At night, my surroundings tend to calm down. All those bustling noises from the streets seem to go away. So busting those headphones in my ears and watching a movie without distractions gives me a rejuvenating experience."

Sleep specialists warn that this habit could have long-term effects on physical, mental, and emotional health and academic and career success. Lack of sleep is linked to decreased cognitive function, academic performance, and overall well-being. A growing body of evidence links lack of sleep with an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, and other health problems. Late bedtimes can disrupt the circadian rhythm and reduce the amount of deep sleep, leading to feelings of fatigue, irritability, and decreased ability to concentrate.

Despite these warnings, many young people remain unaware of the risks associated with late sleep and prioritise social and professional demands over their health. However, as the importance of sleep becomes more widely recognised, many people are beginning to acknowledge the need for a change.

One method for breaking this tendency is to establish a consistent sleep regimen. Going to bed and waking up at the same time daily can aid in regulating the body's circadian cycle and improve sleep quality. It is also crucial to minimise your technology usage before going to bed.

Regarding this, Taiyemul shared, "To counter this issue the first suggestion that popped into my mind is to impose a time limit on the phone. Since most phones nowadays have that feature, scrolling time will be reduced if it is maintained. Everyone must understand that by sleeping early, they can get a headstart in the morning and complete all activities with a clear and effective mind."

Recognising the function of mental health in sleep patterns is also necessary. Depression, worry, and stress affect sleep habits, making falling asleep at a reasonable hour difficult. Seeking support from a mental health expert can help young individuals coping with mental health difficulties improve their sleep quality and general well-being.

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