Do platforms wake up from sleep effects of screens?

“Five more minutes of TikTok and I’m going to bed.” Two hours later, your eyes reddened by the light from your smartphone, you’re still slipping. And like every morning, when your alarm goes off at seven o’clock, you will wake up painfully swearing that you will never be caught again. However, there is no shortage of research on the negative effects of screens on sleep, especially among young people. For several years, experts have been warning of sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, or even memory loss in case of repeated use of screens at night.

So TikTok decided to tackle this public health issue — and restore its reputation in the process. The Chinese giant is currently working on a tool that can induce users to fall asleep in the evening. According to information confirmed by the specialized website TechCrunch, this function called “sleep reminders” will allow users of the social network to show the time of sleep directly in the application and receive a warning when falling asleep. From then on, TikTok will suspend notifications for seven hours.

Less melatonin, less sleep

Because ideally, according to Armelle Rancillac, an Inserm researcher in neuroscience at the Collège de France, screens should be stopped an hour before bedtime. “We are talking about a digital curfew.” And for good reason, more use of screens in the evening disturbs sleep: “The blue light produced by the screens inhibits the synthesis of melatonin, the sleep hormone,” the expert warns. Even if you turn on the night light on your phone or computer, you still have your voice: “If the volume is too high, there is an overactivation of the sensory systems, which does not allow you to let go,” continues Armelle. Rancillac.

To understand how screens affect sleep, you must first understand how it works. Small stage. “Sleep cycles last 1 hour and 30 minutes. Between each cycle there is a micro-wake, which is physiological, but lasts only a few seconds. On average, to have good quality sleep, adults need five cycles or 7.5 hours of sleep, and children need six cycles or nine hours of sleep,” explains the researcher. The important thing, he insists, is not to break these cycles: “If there is a stimulus on the phone, such as a notification sound or an alarm light, it can break the microwake and therefore the next cycle.”.

Lack of concentration and memory

Especially important are the first stages of sleep, that is, those at the beginning of the night, as well as the so-called slow sleep. “Then we work on memory. We review, sort, and consolidate what we learn or see throughout the day. It is also one of the main functions of sleep,” explains Armelle Rancillak.

Along with bad sleep, concentration problems also arise: “TikTok is very short content that follows each other. We jump from one video to another, so our brains are very reactive. But more precisely, it can cause problems to be concentrated for a longer period of time, at work for adults or in the classroom for young people, “warns the expert.

There is another feature of sleep in children and adolescents. It is during sleep that the body produces growth hormone: “If sleep is irregular, we can disrupt the secretion of this hormone,” he warns. To make sure that the chances of falling into Morpheus’s arms are on his side, the scientist recommends turning off notifications or putting yourself on airplane mode.

“They are starting to get the size of the problem”

If TikTok has made this decision, it is especially because the application carries out the number of contacts at night, especially among teenagers and pre-teens, explains Stephanie Laporte, founder of the agency Otta and director of the digital communication program at Inseec: ” All social networks have contact at night access to their statistics, they are starting to get the size of the problem,” he believes. Because the problem is far from just TikTok. Other internet giants have already looked at it. For example, Apple and Google have introduced ‘sleep’ modes to silence notifications temporarily or at certain times, such as at night. added. Whether on iPhone or Android, you can also schedule screen time for one or more apps or a maximum evening schedule. “This is a public health issue, it’s not unique to TikTok. All platforms have screen time is responsible for its management”, he adds.

Communication effect or realistic approach? Although Stéphanie Laporte does not rule out a strategy to restore their image, she believes that this is “a first step and progress”. “It’s almost a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) approach. “There’s definitely some communication, but at least they’re offering a solution,” he said. “You also have to know that they’re not going to sit down at their jobs and shut down the app at night,” he said. While the platforms have to meet “these safeguards,” they “can’t replace parental education,” he continued. before doing, Stephanie Laporte continues, “Also, let’s not be moral with kids, it’s the same problem with adults. They should strengthen themselves and set an example.”

For now, the option is in the testing phase and only available to some users. A launch date has yet to be announced.

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