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Journal Articles International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health Year : 2022

Digital Addiction and Sleep

Abstract

In 2020, the World Health Organization formally recognized addiction to digital technology (connected devices) as a worldwide problem, where excessive online activity and internet use lead to inability to manage time, energy, and attention during daytime and produce disturbed sleep patterns or insomnia during nighttime. Recent studies have shown that the problem has increased in magnitude worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic. The extent to which dysfunctional sleep is a consequence of altered motivation, memory function, mood, diet, and other lifestyle variables or results from excess of blue-light exposure when looking at digital device screens for long hours at day and night is one of many still unresolved questions. This article offers a narrative overview of some of the most recent literature on this topic. The analysis provided offers a conceptual basis for understanding digital addiction as one of the major reasons why people, and adolescents in particular, sleep less and less well in the digital age. It discusses definitions as well as mechanistic model accounts in context. Digital addiction is identified as functionally equivalent to all addictions, characterized by the compulsive, habitual, and uncontrolled use of digital devices and an excessively repeated engagement in a particular online behavior. Once the urge to be online has become uncontrollable, it is always accompanied by severe sleep loss, emotional distress, depression, and memory dysfunction. In extreme cases, it may lead to suicide. The syndrome has been linked to the known chronic effects of all drugs, producing disturbances in cellular and molecular mechanisms of the GABAergic and glutamatergic neurotransmitter systems. Dopamine and serotonin synaptic plasticity, essential for impulse control, memory, and sleep function, are measurably altered. The full spectrum of behavioral symptoms in digital addicts include eating disorders and withdrawal from outdoor and social life. Evidence pointing towards dysfunctional melatonin and vitamin D metabolism in digital addicts should be taken into account for carving out perspectives for treatment. The conclusions offer a holistic account for digital addiction, where sleep deficit is one of the key factors
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Dates and versions

hal-03691845 , version 1 (09-06-2022)

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Birgitta Dresp, Axel Hutt. Digital Addiction and Sleep. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2022, 19 (11), ⟨10.3390/ijerph19116910⟩. ⟨hal-03691845⟩
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