Part II: How Electronics’ Blue Light Keeps You Awake at Night

In our recent post, we wrote about how blue light can affect your sleep. Last year, Scientific American MIND spoke with two leading experts on this topic. Thomas Jefferson University neuroscientist George Brainerd has extensively studied the effects of light on humans for 30 years. He found that the human body’s natural alarm clock, known as the circadian rhythm, is disrupted by light. His work has been so influential that this year, NASA is implementing a new lighting system on the International Space Station.

Scientific American MIND also spoke with Harvard University neuroscientist Anne-Marie Chang, who explained that light suppresses melatonin, the chemical that makes us feel sleepy.

While past studies proved that light suppresses melatonin, Chang’s work proved that the effect of blue light is far worse on sleep quality than scientists thought.

“In 2014 my colleagues and I examined the effects of reading on a light-emitting device compared with reading a printed book. Participants who read on light-emitting devices took longer to fall asleep, had less REM sleep and had higher alertness before bedtime [than those people who read printed books]. We also found that after an eight-hour sleep episode, those who read on the light-emitting device were sleepier and took longer to wake up…At home, I would expect people do not have the motivation to turn off their devices and go to bed, so they would stay up longer and experience even more circadian delay and shorter sleep times. The effects in the real world could actually be even greater.

In conclusion: turn off your smartphone, tablet and e-reader before bed! If you’re feeling drowsy each day, it’s time to reconsider your hooked-on-electronics lifestyle. If that still doesn’t have an impact on your sleep quality, then consider upgrading to something more comfortable, like Craftmatic® Adjustable Memory Foam beds (Memory Foam is also popular at NASA).

Finally, if your sleep quality is still suffering, talk to your doctor about ways to get more sleep.
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