- Published: 06 August 2018 06 August 2018
"Just one more level," and other Internet temptations cut your sleep. "Individuals with DSL access tend to sleep 25 minutes less than their counterparts without DSL Internet. They are significantly less likely to sleep between 7 and 9 hours... Furthermore, they are less likely to be satisfied with their sleep. These effects are mostly concentrated among younger adults."
I at first thought that claim implausible. Then I thought of all the nights I went to bed later to finish something on the computer, or when I just lost track of time surfing."High-speed Internet makes it very enticing to stay up later to play video games, surf the web and spend time online on social media."
Three Italian researchers used a large dataset of dairies collected by the German Socioeconomic Panel (SOEP). They made reasonable efforts to exclude other variables but the association continued. Broadband Internet, Digital Temptations, and Sleep by Billari, Giuntella, & Stella.
The association disappeared on weekends, when people could sleep later. But many of us have to get up for school or work, whether or not we were up late.
Other research has found that people who play computer games more than five hours in the evening sleep less and wake up more than those playing two hours. It's easy to understand how getting over-excited could affect your sleep.
Princeton economist Mark Aguilar studies changes in the supply of labor. He believes "that innovations to gaming/recreational computing since 2004 explain on the order of half the increase in leisure for younger men." Increase in leisure is a polite way of saying people work less. Some of us think that is a good thing, but apparently labor economists see less work time as a deficit. To isolate the many other factors, he compared results among states over 11 years.
None of these studies meets the requirements of evidence-based policy, although they appear well done.
Here are the abstracts of two of the studies.