Beware! Less sleep puts you at risk of compulsive Facebook use

New York, Feb 5 (IANS) Long spells of bad night sleep do not only put you at the risk of developing day-long tiredness, crankiness or distraction but also lead to compulsive Facebook checking too, find researchers.

The team from University of California-Irvine demonstrated that lack of sleep – in addition to affecting busy college students’ moods and productivity – leads to more frequent online activities such as browsing Facebook.

“When you get less sleep, you’re more prone to distraction. If you’re being distracted, what do you do? You go to Facebook. It’s lightweight, it’s easy, and you’re tired,” said lead researcher and informatics professor Gloria Mark.

She and her colleagues collected data from 76 undergraduates – 34 males and 42 females – for seven days.

The study controlled for students’ gender, age and course load and relied on sensors to objectively gauge their behaviour, activities and stress levels.

Students’ computers and smartphones were equipped with logging software and time stamps recorded when participants switched from one application window to another and when they spoke on the phone or texted.

They were asked to fill out a sleep survey each morning and an end-of-day survey at night.

The findings show a direct connection among chronic lack of sleep, worsening mood and greater reliance on Facebook browsing.

Mark also found that the less sleep people have, the more frequently their attention shifts among different computer screens, suggesting heightened distractibility.

Sleep deprivation can cause workplace mishaps and make drivers fall asleep at the wheel.

Experts in the field of human-computer interaction want to know how sleep loss impacts people so they can design better technologies and products.

“There have been lots of studies on how information technology affects sleep. We did the opposite: We looked at how sleep duration influences IT usage,” said Mark, who will present the findings at a leading computer-human interaction conference in May.

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