Study objectives: Insufficient sleep among adolescents carries significant health risks, making it important to determine social factors that change sleep duration. We sought to determine whether the self-reported sleep duration of U.S. adolescents changed between 2009 and 2015 and examine whether new media screen time (relative to other factors) might be responsible for changes in sleep.
Methods: We drew from yearly, nationally representative surveys of sleep duration and time use among adolescents conducted since 1991 (Monitoring the Future) and 2007 (Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System of the Centers for Disease Control; total N = 369,595).
Results: Compared to 2009, adolescents in 2015 were 16%-17% more likely to report sleeping less than 7 h a night on most nights, with an increase in short sleep duration after 2011-2013. New media screen time (electronic device use, social media, and reading news online) increased over this time period and was associated with increased odds of short sleep duration, with a clear exposure-response relationship for electronic devices after 2 or more hours of use per day. Other activities associated with short sleep duration, such as homework time, working for pay, and TV watching, were relatively stable or reduced over this time period, making it unlikely that these activities caused the sudden increase in short sleep duration.
Conclusions: Increased new media screen time may be involved in the recent increases (from 35% to 41% and from 37% to 43%) in short sleep among adolescents. Public health interventions should consider electronic device use as a target of intervention to improve adolescent health.
Keywords: Adolescents; Electronic device use; Screen time; Sleep duration.
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