Physical Health Sleep Wellness & Lifestyle

Electronic Devices Can Disrupt Sleep

As college students, we are usually conjoined at the hip with our cell phones, iPods, and computers. We all have procrastinated on homework by surfing the web or sneaked in some Facebook browsing time during class. We all probably have some general idea that too much electronic use can lead to obesity and diabetes, but did you know that it can also disrupt our sleep?

Sleep researchers have found that artificial light from electronic devices can affect brain chemicals that promote sleep. One main chemical the brain produces is a hormone called melatonin, which regulates our internal clocks and plays a role in our sleep cycles. Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have discovered that computer and cell phone usage before bed can significantly lower melatonin levels. They did a study in which subjects read, played games, and watched movies on computer tablets. They found that two hours of exposure to the electronic light equated to a reduction of melatonin levels by twenty-two percent! So while many of us like to do some late night Tumblr browsing, check up on our Facebook newsfeed, or unwind with a TV show before we hit the hay, doing so may actually deter us from getting the sleep and rest we crave.

In college, getting a full eight hours of sleep may be hard to come by. Many students have endless piles of homework and studying to do into the wee hours of the morning. But sleep is one of the most crucial aspects of doing well in school. When we don’t get enough sleep, not only do we become more irritable and less tolerant, it also affects our cognitive processes in learning new material. Sleep is a time for restoring mental energy, so we can create and think the next day. So if it’s unnecessary to use an electronic device before going to bed, don’t! Read a book or listen to music instead. Do an activity that can help you unwind from your day that doesn’t involve using your computer—we already use it too much during the day! If complete detachment from your electronics is impossible, at least lower the brightness of your screen. This can help prevent melatonin reduction.

Article by Angie Zhang

Feature Image Source: House Beautiful