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Caffeine and Computers Add To Teens' Daytime Sleepiness

Teens who use multiple forms of technology at night have trouble staying awake in school

TUESDAY, May 26 (HealthDay News) -- A combination of late-night use of multiple forms of technology and consumption of caffeinated drinks makes many teens unable to stay awake or alert during the day, according to a study published in the June issue of Pediatrics.

Christina J. Calamaro, Ph.D., of Drexel University in Philadelphia, and colleagues conducted a study of 100 children aged 12 to 18 years with a median age of 15, who completed a questionnaire on technology use, caffeinated drink intake and sleep patterns.

The researchers found that, after 9 p.m., adolescents engaged in an average of four technology activities, which corresponded to an average multitasking index of 0.59. The multitasking index of teenagers who slept eight to 10 hours a night tended to be between 1.5 times and two times lower than those who got less sleep. Falling asleep during school was reported by 33 percent of respondents, and caffeine consumption was 76 percent higher by those who fell asleep, the authors note.

"With this study we have demonstrated the importance of using a novel approach in the form of a multitasking index to capture adolescents' use of technologies simultaneously in the evening and nighttime hours. Importantly, we have shown that this multitasking index is significantly associated with caffeine use," Calamaro and colleagues conclude. "Future studies should measure more than just television hours when evaluating the impact of nighttime activities on sleep patterns in adolescents."

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