A new survey from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine shows that out of 2,010 18-to-24 year olds who were surveyed, 92% reported losing sleep because of the platforms. Additionally, one-third said they are losing sleep due to work concerns and 80% admit to napping on the job.
Dr. Po Chang Hsu, medical sleep consultant and advisor at SleepingOcean, told Sleepopilis that the drive to keep scrolling at night is a reasonable one.
“Most content online (especially on social media) is designed to be easy to consume, catchy, and bite-sized (short videos, posts, or simply pictures). This applies to TikTok as well, as the platform typically contains short 15- or 30-second videos. Consuming such small bites of content in a row without interruption makes the whole process more engaging and, in some way, a bit addictive,” he said.
Since our brains are always seeking out more knowledge and information, scrolling is an easy way to fulfill that need, Hsu added. However, continuous scrolling at night leads to emotional arousal, which makes us alert rather than allowing our minds to wind down.
“Instead of getting the 7, 8 hours needed for energy restoration, people may sleep for only 5, 6 hours because they get sucked into this loop of scrolling,” he said.
Researchers are still exploring why Gen Z is more apt to this issue, Hsu said, noting that one reason could be their tendency towards boredom. Psychiatric nurse Angel L.A. Adams at Premiere Mental Wellness said it could be about the “feel good” chemical dopamine hit social media gives us.
“It is a part of the reward system in the brain, so when released, it causes you to want to experience that feeling repeatedly. So, something as vital as sleep can be put on the back burner for a night of scrolling because the body is now craving dopamine and knows it can get it,” she said.
The survey also shows a difference between lost sleep for women (83%), more so than men (77%) and the difference could be because of women’s social nature.