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Exploring the effects of Internet on cognition and sleep in Indian medical students – A cross-sectional study

Megha Agrawal, Sowmya Rajaram, Girija B.


Background: Internet usage has become an integral part of modern lifestyle. Recent researches have assessed the effect of Internet addiction (IA) on sleep and cognition. However, there is significant variation in the way Internet is used worldwide. The mechanisms and causal relationships are not very clear.

Aim and Objectives: This study aims to explore: (1) Internet usage in 1st-year medical students and its effect on sleep and cognition. (2) To find out which aspects of cognition and sleep are affected the most.

Materials and Methods: A total of 100 students of BMCRI, aged 17–20 years were administered 2 questionnaires – Davis online cognition scale (DOCS) and Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) Questionnaire to assess IA and sleep, respectively.

Results: In a sample size of 100 students, problematic internet use was found in 46% students with slight predilection in males than females. The cognitive parameters associated with DOCS most affected were distraction, loneliness, depression, and impulsivity. The number of students with poor sleep quality was 16. The study showed no association between IA and sleep.

Conclusion: IA has indeed become quite prevalent among youngsters, especially males, affecting their cognition by causing distraction, impulsivity and a rise of negative emotions such as depression and loneliness. However contrary to common concern, it may not cause altered sleep pattern if used judiciously. Therefore, the role of individual variability, self-regulation, and social support need to be explored further, so as to find ways to alleviate the adverse effects on internet on human cognition.

Key words: Internet Addiction; Problematic Internet Use; Davis Online Cognition Scale; Cognition, Medical Students

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