Article Text

Social media use and adolescent sleep patterns: cross-sectional findings from the UK millennium cohort study
  1. Holly Scott,
  2. Stephany M Biello,
  3. Heather Cleland Woods
  1. School of Psychology, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  1. Correspondence to Holly Scott; h.scott.1{at}


Objectives This study examines associations between social media use and multiple sleep parameters in a large representative adolescent sample, controlling for a wide range of covariates.

Design The authors used cross-sectional data from the Millennium Cohort Study, a large nationally representative UK birth cohort study.

Participants Data from 11 872 adolescents (aged 13–15 years) were used in analyses.

Methods Six self-reported sleep parameters captured sleep timing and quality: sleep onset and wake times (on school days and free days), sleep onset latency (time taken to fall asleep) and trouble falling back asleep after nighttime awakening. Binomial logistic regressions investigated associations between daily social media use and each sleep parameter, controlling for a range of relevant covariates.

Results Average social media use was 1 to <3 hours per day (31.6%, n=3720). 33.7% were classed as low users (<1 hour; n=3986); 13.9% were high users (3 to <5 hours; n=1602) and 20.8% were very high users (5+ hours; n=2203). Girls reported spending more time on social media than boys. Overall, heavier social media use was associated with poorer sleep patterns, controlling for covariates. For example, very high social media users were more likely than comparable average users to report late sleep onset (OR 2.14, 95% CI 1.83 to 2.50) and wake times (OR 1.97, 95% CI 1.32 to 2.93) on school days and trouble falling back asleep after nighttime awakening (OR 1.36, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.66).

Conclusions This study provides a normative profile of UK adolescent social media use and sleep. Results indicate statistically and practically significant associations between social media use and sleep patterns, particularly late sleep onset. Sleep education and interventions can focus on supporting young people to balance online interactions with an appropriate sleep schedule that allows sufficient sleep on school nights.

  • social media use
  • sleep
  • adolescents
  • delayed bedtime
  • sleep quality
  • screen time

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See:

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Supplementary materials


  • Presented at This work presents secondary analysis of data deposited in the UK Data Service. It is therefore not possible for the authors to share the current findings directly with original study participants.

  • Contributors HS designed the study and carried out data analysis. HS, HCW and SMB interpreted the findings. HS drafted the manuscript in consultation with HCW. HCW and SMB revised the manuscript for important intellectual content. All authors approve the submitted manuscript and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

  • Funding This study was funded by an Economic and Social Research Council +3 PhD studentship for HS (grant number ES/J500136/1). The Millennium Cohort Study was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

  • Competing interests All authors have completed the ICMJE uniform disclosure form at and declare no support from any organisation for the submitted work; no financial relationships with any organisations that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous three years; no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The Millennium Cohort Study Sweep 6 was approved by the London Multicentre Research Ethics Committee (13/LO/1786).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available in a public, open access repository.