The Association Between Smartphone Addiction and Sleep: A UK Cross-Sectional Study of Young Adults

Sohn SY, Krasnoff L, Rees P, Kalk NJ and Carter B (2021) The Association Between Smartphone Addiction and Sleep: A UK Cross-Sectional Study of Young Adults. Front. Psychiatry 12:629407. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.629407

Background: In a large UK study we investigated the relationship between smartphone addiction and sleep quality in a young adult population.

Methods: We undertook a large UK cross-sectional observational study of 1,043 participants aged 18 to 30 between January 21st and February 30th 2019. Participants completed the Smartphone Addiction Scale Short Version, an adapted Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Score Index and reported smartphone use reduction strategies using both in-person (n = 968) and online (n = 75) questionnaires. A crude and adjusted logistic regression was fitted to assess risk factors for smartphone addiction, and the association between smartphone addiction and poor sleep.

Results: One thousand seventy one questionnaires were returned, of which 1,043 participants were included, with median age 21.1 [interquartile range (IQR) 19–22]. Seven hundred and sixty three (73.2%) were female, and 406 reported smartphone addiction (38.9%). A large proportion of participants disclosed poor sleep (61.6%), and in those with smartphone addiction, 68.7% had poor sleep quality, compared to 57.1% of those without. Smartphone addiction was associated with poor sleep (aOR = 1.41, 95%CI: 1.06–1.87, p = 0.018).

Conclusions: Using a validated instrument, 39% young adults reported smartphone addiction. Smartphone addiction was associated with poor sleep, independent of duration of usage, indicating that length of time should not be used as a proxy for harmful usage.

Excerpt: The results of this study indicate that self-reported smartphone addiction is prevalent amongst young adults attending university and that it is linked with use at later times of the day in addition to total duration of use. Public health bodies should take this evidence into account when developing guidelines around smartphone use and sleep hygiene. Furthermore, clinicians, parents, and educators should be aware of the pervasiveness of smartphone addiction, and be prepared to consider the potential wide-reaching impact of smartphones on sleep.

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