Almost half of young adults use their smartphones in the middle of the night to keep a tab on social media updates or personal emails, affecting the quality of their sleep, according to a new UK study. According to the UK Mobile Consumer Survey 2016, UK citizens collectively look at their smartphones over a billion times a day.
Nocturnal smartphone usage is concentrated among younger age groups, the survey found. About half of 18-24 year olds check their phone in the middle of the night. A fifth of the younger adults said that they check instant messages or social media notifications in the middle of the night. About a seventh reply to instant messages, according to the survey.
“Smartphones are personal, but their usage impacts on those around them. As with most emerging technologies, consumers will need to learn how best to run their lives with smartphones, as opposed to having their lives run by their devices,” the researchers said.
A tenth of smartphone owners instinctively reach for their phones as soon as they wake up. A third reach for their phones within five minutes of waking, and half within a quarter of an hour, according to the survey conducted by the multinational professional services firm Deloitte.
Of those who check their phones in the middle of the night, a third check for messages and a sixth reply to them. Just over a quarter check for social media updates or personal email, affecting sleep quality. “Getting a good night’s sleep has benefits for physical and mental wellbeing. Exposure to light, including that from a screen just before going to sleep, can confuse the brain into thinking it is still daytime, and inhibit the process of falling asleep,” researchers said.
Smartphones can enhance social lives, but overuse can be perceived as anti-social, and cause arguments. During the day, 18-24 year olds are among the most enthusiastic of smartphone users, the survey found. A third use their devices ‘always’ or ‘very often’ when meeting friends, shopping or watching television. Over a tenth use their phones when eating at home, or eating out.
A third of all 18-24 year olds noted that their excessive use of smartphones had caused disagreements with their partners. For 25-34 year olds the proportion was even higher, at 38%, the survey found.