Research Findings – Systematic literature review of the relationship between adolescents’ screen time, sleep and mental health

Sleep Scotland was delighted host the launch of a systematic literature review of the relationship between adolescents’ screen time, sleep and mental health this morning by Minister for Mental Health, Clare Haughey, MSP.

The research draws conclusions that sleep quality is negatively influenced by mobile phone use around bedtime. As more children are being given a mobile phone earlier – polls show one in four children under the age of six has access to a smartphone in the UK – it is essential that all children and young people should be aware of the effect mobile phone use can have on their sleep, and the devastating impact that poor sleep can have on their health and wellbeing, particularly when it comes to their mental health.

For example:

  • Teenagers sleeping less than 5hrs per night are 71% more likely to suffer from depression1
  • The risk of self-harming was 4 times higher among the 16-19 years old adolescents with insomnia 2
  • Young people sleeping less than 6 hours per night are 3 times more likely to attempt to take their own lives3

However, the work of Sleep Scotland in improving sleep can be part of the solution, in particular in relation to the prevention of mental health problems. As part of the launch, we are hosted a session with a group of adolescent pupils from the Edinburgh Montessori Arts School from our Sound Sleep lessons, designed for schools. They learned about the importance of sleep for their health and wellbeing, as well as how they can improve their own sleep, such as what they can do in the hour before bed to prepare their body and brain for sleep. Any school interested in bringing our Sound Sleep Education resources to their pupils should get in touch for upcoming training dates.


For more information on the work we are doing to promote good sleep for our children and young people, visit our website

Sleep Scotland work is supported by the Scottish Government and The National Lottery Community Fund Scotland.

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1) Gangwisch JE; Babiss LA; Malaspina D; Turner JB; Zammit GK; Posner K Earlier parental set bedtimes as a protective factor against depression and suicidal ideation. SLEEP 2010;33(1):97-106.
2) Hysing et al 2015 Sleep problems and self-harm in adolescence
3) Matthew D. Weaver, PhD1,2; Laura K. Barger, PhD1,2; Susan Kohl Malone, PhD, RN, NCSN3; et al 2018 Dose-Dependent Associations Between Sleep Duration and Unsafe Behaviors Among US High School Students