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Not Enough Zzzzs? Social Media Use Could Be Messing With Your Sleep

A study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh suggests that heavy social media use could wreak havoc with the sleep patterns of young adults.
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Can’t seem to get a good night’s sleep? You might be checking Facebook too much.

A study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine suggests that heavy social media use could wreak havoc with your sleep patterns.

Previous studies have found that use of tech gadgets such as smartphones and computers could mess with the sleep of children and adolescents.

The Pitt researchers looked specifically at young adults and found that those who reported spending a lot of time on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine or LinkedIn were more likely to report sleep disturbances.

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"This is one of the first pieces of evidence that social media use really can impact your sleep," lead author Jessica C. Levenson, a postdoctoral researcher in Pitt’s Department of Psychiatry, said in a news release. "And it uniquely examines the association between social media use and sleep among young adults who are, arguably, the first generation to grow up with social media."

Levenson and her colleagues sampled 1,788 U.S. adults ages 19 to 32 via questionnaires. They found that on average the participants spent just over an hour a day on social media and visited social media accounts 30 times a week. More than half reported medium or high levels of sleep disturbance.

Those who were most likely to report sleep disturbances checked their social media accounts most frequently throughout the week, or spent the most time on them during the day.

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So is social media use to blame for keeping these people up at night, or were they using social media because they couldn’t fall asleep? Or both? The researchers say more study is needed to address that question.

"Future research should work to replicate our findings in other populations, as well as to understand better the reasons why social media use is related to disturbed sleep," Levenson told NBC News by email.

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The study was published online and scheduled for the April issue of the journal Preventive Medicine.