Yes, Technology Is Ruining Your Sleep


New Study Shows Tablets Can Disrupt Your Rest

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One of the best reasons to own an e-reader or tablet is the ability to carry around thousands of books with you at all times. No longer do you have to carry the weight of your library while on vacation or in school. You can gain space in your home by not having to store them. You can even tend to buy digital copies cheaper than their physical counterparts.  Yup, they are fantastic.

But what if you read your e-reader or tablet before you go to bed? Replacing your once analog device with a digital one? A new study in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is reporting that you could be ruining your sleep and possibly causing yourself to have a terrible next day.

Researchers in Boston performed a two week sleep study involving fourteen participants. For the first week, the participants would read from an iPad before their determined 10 p.m. bedtime. For the second week they read from a regular book.

The results were interesting. When the participants read from the iPad before bed they tended to take about 10 minutes longer to fall asleep and actually received about 10 minutes less REM sleep. They were closely monitored during the tests. Blood tests revealed lower levels of melatonin, a sleep hormone that indicated their sleep cycle could be off by as much as one and a half hours.

Past reports have indicated that this altered sleep state could be the result of the blue wavelength put off by these devices. There’s a small gland called the pineal gland that is in our brain and is responsible for releasing melatonin to help us sleep. This gland actually responds poorly to the wavelengths given off by blue light and can cause this gland to not produce melatonin, thereby affecting your sleep.

None of this information is particularly new. I think most people would tend to assume that staring at these devices in the dark before bedtime could affect your sleep patterns. We’ve also known about blue light as well for some time, but this is the first organized study on these sleep patterns.  It’s nowhere near definitive as the test group is rather small, but it just reinforces what most of us already know: Put those devices away before bedtime.

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