Use of Social Media and the Effects on Students' Sleep Pattern in King Saud University: A Descriptive Cross-Sectional Study

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Bashaier Aldhafeeri, Ghezlan Alqahtani, Amnah Al Ali, Majedah Alruwaili, Rene Carcuela


Background The use of social media has become increasingly prevalent among students in universities, significantly impacting their sleep patterns. Social media platforms provide students with a constant stream of information and opportunities for communication, which can lead to addictive behaviors and excessive screen time, particularly before bedtime. This excessive use of social media often disrupts the quality and quantity of sleep among students. The consequences of disturbed sleep patterns among students are far-reaching. Sleep deprivation negatively affects cognitive function, memory consolidation, and academic performance. Thus, this study aims to investigate the impact of social media on the sleeping patterns of undergraduate students at King Saud University in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2022 - 2023.


Methods This was a descriptive cross-sectional design study among undergraduate students at King Saud University in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the academic year 2022-2023. The target population consisted of all undergraduate students at the university, and a sample size of 354 participants. Data collection utilized a web questionnaire divided into three parts. The first part covered demographic information, including gender, age, nationality, and place of residence. The second part assessed participants' time spent on various social media platforms and their electronic media usage before bedtime using a graded scale. Higher scores indicated increased media usage prior to sleep. The third part employed the Arabic version of the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) to evaluate sleep patterns. This well-established tool has been previously adapted and deemed reliable. Throughout the study, ethical considerations were upheld. Informed consent was obtained from participants, and confidentiality and anonymity were ensured.


Results In this study, which included 354 participants. The majority of participants were between 20-29 years old (66.9%), female (63.3%), lived in cities (95.5%), and were single (74.9%). The participants' social media usage habits were examined, and it was found that the majority (98.6%) spent 1-5 hours on Facebook, with only a small percentage spending more than 10 hours. Similar trends were observed for other platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and YouTube. Participants' pre-bedtime activities were also assessed. Watching TV and surfing the web before bed were found to be less common, while playing video games and talking on the phone were reported more frequently. The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) was used to assess participants' sleep quality. On average, participants had a PSQI score of 9.97, indicating relatively good sleep quality. Sleep disturbances and daytime dysfunction were low, and there was minimal use of sleeping medication. Significant correlations were found between subjective sleep quality, sleep latency, sleep duration, sleep disturbances, and the use of sleeping medication. However, sleep efficiency showed weak correlations with other domains. There were no significant relationships between demographic characteristics (age, gender, residence, marital status) and PSQI scores. No significant relationships were observed between time spent on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and PSQI scores. However, spending more than 10 hours on Twitter and YouTube showed a significant positive association with higher PSQI scores. Similarly, playing video games and talking on the phone frequently were also found to have a significant positive association with higher PSQI scores.


Conclusion in conclusion, the findings highlight the prevalence of social media usage among students, with platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and YouTube being commonly accessed. The study also reveals that excessive use of social media before bedtime, particularly spending more than 10 hours on platforms like Twitter and YouTube, is significantly associated with poorer sleep quality. Furthermore, frequent engagement in activities such as playing video games and talking on the phone before sleep also showed a significant positive association with decreased sleep quality. Hence, it is crucial for university communities and educational institutions to acknowledge and address the potential detrimental effects of social media on students' sleep. This study provides valuable insights for stakeholders to develop interventions and strategies that promote healthy sleep hygiene practices and mitigate the addictive behaviors associated with social media use before bedtime.

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