Light from Electronic Gadgets Can Affect Melatonin and Delay Sleep

Light from Tablets Can Affect Melatonin and Delay Sleep

Light from Tablets Can Affect Melatonin and Delay Sleep. Image: rpi.edu

I would argue that sleep is one of the most important things to me. Not that I am lazy or need a lot of sleep. I know that the amount of sleep I get directly affects my mental and physical health. I will do nearly anything to ensure I get enough sleep or to improve the quality of my sleep.

New research shows that I need to stop looking at my phone or my laptop late in the evening. The bright light emitted from these devices can suppress melatonin – a hormone that helps control sleep and wake cycles. This can wreak havoc on your sleep.

A new study from the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute shows that a two-hour exposure to electronic devices with self-luminous backlit displays causes melatonin suppression, which might lead to delayed bedtimes, especially in teens.

The study tested the effects of self-luminous tablets on melatonin suppression. The study monitored 13 individuals who used self-luminous tablets to read, play games, and watch movies.

“Our study shows that a two-hour exposure to light from self-luminous electronic displays can suppress melatonin by about 22 percent. Stimulating the human circadian system to this level may affect sleep in those using the devices prior to bedtime,” said Mariana Figueiro, associate professor at Rensselaer.

The findings of this study may influence manufacturers to develop “circadian-friendly” devices that could either increase or decrease circadian stimulation depending on the time of day (The study was funded by Sharp Laboratories of America). Until that day, consider creating an electronic curfew and start spending all of those nighttime hours with a book instead of staring at your tablet or your phone.

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One thought on “Light from Electronic Gadgets Can Affect Melatonin and Delay Sleep

  1. I am curious about how light affects our melatonin production as we are sleeping. I know I have read somewhere that even as we sleep, light can interfere with our melatonin cycle and cause grogginess in the morning. Would black out curtains or a sleeping mask be helpful for this? Assuming we are not waking up at the crack of dawn and light streams in hours before we wake up.

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