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Researchers Can Guess How Much Sleep You Get Based on Your Facebook Activity

We’ve all had those days…

| 2 min read

We’ve all had those days…

If you often find yourself mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or frequently switching between different phone or computer applications, it might be time to re-evaluate your sleep habits.

According to new research out of the University of California, Irvine (UCI), how you use Facebook might be a sign of whether or not you’re getting enough sleep.

Rather than looking at how your use of technology affects your ability to sleep, the researchers looked at your use of Facebook as a symptom of your sleep habits. "There have been lots of studies on how information technology affects sleep. We did the opposite: We looked at how sleep duration influences IT usage," lead researcher Gloria Mark, a UCI informatics professor, said in a press release.

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They found that when you don’t get enough sleep, you’re prone to being more easily distracted and thus spend more time on mind-numbing sites like Facebook.

“If you're being distracted, what do you do? You go to Facebook. It's lightweight, it's easy, and you're tired," said Mark.

Their results showed “direct connection among chronic lack of sleep, worsening mood and greater reliance on Facebook browsing,” as well as a link between less sleep and frequent shifts between computer screens which Mark attributes to heightened distractibility.

The study looked at 76 UCI undergraduate students and logged their computer and smartphone usage over a seven-day period in spring 2014. It accounted for “gender, age, course load and deadlines,” and looked at the timing of when the students changed applications, spoke on the phone or texted.

SEE ALSO: Want a Better Night’s Sleep? Brush Your Teeth in the Dark

It also used self-reported data from morning sleep surveys and end-of-day questionnaires, as well as a general questionnaire and an exit interview. Furthermore, at various times throughout the week, researchers enquired about the students’ mood, how difficult they perceived the tasks they were doing and how engaged they were in their work.

The study also looked at how an accumulated difference in the amount of sleep you need and the amount of sleep you get — called sleep debt — affected a person, rather than simply a lack of sleep during a single night.

The study’s findings will be presented at CHI, a leading computer-human interaction conference in May in San Jose, California.

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