Smartphone Battles the Sandman

There have been numerous studies that indicate using electronics just before bedtime could be interrupting valuable shut-eye time. One of the latest was conducted by the Mayo Clinic, presented recently at SLEEP 2013, an annual meeting for the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

Their research found that the light exposure from smartphones and tablets can interfere with melatonin, the hormone that is responsible for controlling the natural sleep-wake cycle.

For years, people have gone to bed with a good book and spent time reading before falling asleep, but today, more and more are bringing their smartphones or tablets to bed to check Facebook, email or surf the web.

Researchers believe that the bluish light emitted from the screens can prevent users from getting a good night’s sleep because the light mimics daylight, effectively convincing the brain that it isn’t time to rest. The blue light suppresses melatonin which is needed to help us fall asleep.

In the Mayo Clinic study researchers found that lowering the brightness settings on the device while also holding it a little over a foot from the user’s face can reduce the risk of suppressing melatonin.

A number of experts believe, however, that there should be an “electronic curfew” of 30 to 60 minutes with no exposure to bright lights from any type of electronics including smartphones or even televisions.

The body needs time to wind down and bright light conditions does not allow us the chance to do that – resulting in a longer time to fall asleep and stay asleep.

An annual Sleep in America poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that in 2011 of the 1,508 Americans that were polled, 63 percent revealed that their sleep needs were not met.

Ninety-five percent of those people reported that they had used an electronic device such as a cell phone, computer or television at least a few nights a week in the hour before trying to sleep.

Why is getting enough sleep so important for good health?

When you don’t get enough sleep at night, not only will you likely feel a bit grumpy the next day and have difficulty concentrating or even performing basic tasks, but it can lead to a number of serious health problems in addition to weight gain.

phone in bedEven after just one night without enough shut-eye, levels of the hormone leptin go down, causing an increased appetite the next day. It can also affect the way our fat cells respond to insulin, causing fat to accumulate in our organs leading to a number of health problems.

Those who don’t get seven to eight hours of good, quality sleep on a regular basis have an increased risk of developing diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Headaches, depression and even auto accidents can result due to a lack of sleep.

Shutting off those smartphones and other devices at least a half hour before bed can help you get a sound night’s rest and even enjoy better health!

-The Alternative Daily

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