We live in a world where portable electronic devices are increasingly more commonplace, and they follow us everywhere. A new study, however, indicates that these devices shouldn't be following us to bed. According to the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, devices with backlit displays cause melatonin suppression, leading to delayed bedtimes and insufficient sleep.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the body that, among other things, affects human circadian rhythms, signaling when we should go to sleep. The LRC study showed that exposure to brightly backlit devices that emit powerful short wavelength light, like smartphones and tablets, suppresses melatonin production in the body. Exposure to a backlit display device for two hours can suppress melatonin production by almost 25%.
Insufficient melatonin production leads to less sleep, and less quality sleep at that. Given that teenagers and young adults tend to keep long hours to begin as well as take their smartphones everywhere, you could see how sleeplessness could become a problem.
To combat this problem – until manufacturers start making more circadian-friendly devices – it is recommended that you not take your smartphone or tablet to bed. Shut it down at least one hour before bedtime and find other ways to wind down, like reading a book, or meditating. If you are going to take your smart device to bed, turn the brightness down as far as it will go.
RPInews.com, "Light From Self Luminous Tablet Computers Can Affect Evening Melatonin, Delaying Sleep" found here.