How Electronics Affect Sleep

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How Electronics Affect Sleep

Our world is full of gadgets. For both work and entertainment, technology use is increasingly popular, and the evening hours are no exception. For example, a recent poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that 95% of people use some type of computer, video game, or cell phone at least a few nights a week within the hour before bed.

But scientists are now finding that light from electronics has the potential to disrupt sleep, because it sends alerting signals to the brain. The circadian rhythm seems to be especially sensitive to light with short wavelengths—in particular, blue light in the 460-nanometer range of the electromagnetic spectrum. This light, which is given off by electronics like computers and cell phones, and also by energy-efficient bulbs, has been shown to delay the release of melatonin. In other words, electronics could keep you feeling charged past bedtime.

If you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, consider keeping electronics out of the bedroom and turning them off—especially those used at close range—for at least an hour before bed. It can take some time for the body to come down from technology's alerting effects. Protect your evening wind-down time by reading a book, for example. Let your body chemistry settle for the night.

Supporting Research

National Sleep Foundation. 2011 Sleep in America Poll: Communications Technology and Sleep. Washington (DC): The Foundation; 2011 Mar 7.

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