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Plenty of research shows that teens who spend a lot of time on social media suffer sleep disturbances – now a new study shows the same applies to adults.

Adults who spend a lot of time on social media during the day or check it frequently throughout the week are more likely to suffer sleep disturbances than people who use social media less, according to research from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Published in the journal Preventive Medicine, the study indicates that health professionals should consider asking adult patients about social media habits when assessing sleep issues.

"This is one of the first pieces of evidence that social media use really can impact your sleep," said lead author Jessica C. Levenson, Ph.D. The questionnaires asked about the 11 most popular social media platforms at the time: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine and LinkedIn. On average, the participants used social media a total of 61 minutes per day and visited various social media accounts 30 times per week. The assessment showed that nearly 30 percent of the participants had high levels of sleep disturbance.

The participants who reported most frequently checking social media throughout the week had three times the likelihood of sleep disturbances, compared with those who checked least frequently. And participants who spent the most total time on social media throughout the day had twice the risk of sleep disturbance, compared to peers who spent less time on social media.

"This may indicate that frequency of social media visits is a better predictor of sleep difficulty than overall time spent on social media," Levenson explained. "If this is the case, then interventions that counter obsessive 'checking' behaviour may be most effective."