Caffeine and Teens Make for Lousy Combination

They lose sleep over technology and energy drinks

By on July 27th, 2009 13:57 GMT
A new scientific research has determined that an increasingly larger number of teens stay up until the wee hours of the morning, “fueled” by coffee and energy drinks, and spend their time chatting online, playing games, surfing the Internet, or text-messaging to one another. Scientists from the Drexel University, who have been behind the investigation, revealed that the more time the teens spent engaging in such behavior, the more likely they were to doze off during the day, or be very tired, ScienceDaily informs.

For the new research, experts from the University's College of Nursing and Health Professions, led by Assistant Professor Dr. Christina Calamaro, handed questionnaires to 100 children, aged 12 to 18, and asked them to rate how much caffeine drinks they had per night, what multimedia technologies (TVs, computers, music players, cell phones) they used, and how their sleep patterns looked like.

Calamaro and her colleagues, Mason B. Thornton and Sarah Ratcliffe, found that 30 percent of participants had a TV in their room, 30 percent had a computer, 90 percent had a cell phone, and 79 percent used MP3 digital music players.

The scientist also revealed that the average sleep time for the American teenager had dropped to seven hours per night during school nights, from the recommended eight hours. Some 30 percent of respondents reported falling asleep in class at least once, and the researchers positively linked this behavior to higher intakes of caffeine during the night, as the children themselves admitted. The sad aspect, Calamaro added, was the fact that they drank mostly energy drinks marketed especially to their age groups.

“Many adolescents used multiple forms of technology late into the night and concurrently consumed caffeinated beverages. Their ability to stay alert and fully functional throughout the day was impaired by excessive daytime sleepiness,” the scientist said. “Even though we know adolescents are on a different time schedule than adults, we still need to get them less wired at night. Parents need to discourage teenagers from drinking caffeine past noon time and keep TVs, computers and especially cell phones out of kids’ bedrooms.”

On the bright side of things, the statistics also revealed that 20 percent of respondents slept between eight to ten hours per night. For these children, sleepiness during the day or falling asleep in class was not an issue, the researchers informed, even if they too had at least some multimedia technology in their bedrooms.

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