Experts: Artificial Waves From Electronics Can Throw Off Our Body Clocks

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Can’t sleep? You’re not alone. Millions of Americans toss and turn night after night.

However, researchers think they know the big reason we’re so sleep-deprived, and it’s all due to technology we’re using all day, every day, CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson reported.

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Titania Jordan is online all hours of the day and night.

“From about 7 p.m. ’til midnight,” she said.

She works at home as a blogger, so she’s always on her desktop, laptop and mobile device.

But she said when she turns off whatever device she’s using and tries to go to bed she just can’t fall asleep. She said the glow in her bedroom from all of her devices keeps her up.

“When we expose ourselves to light at night, we tell the brain that it’s daytime,” said Dr. Steven Lockley, author of “Sleep: A Very Short Introduction.”

Lockley, a Harvard researcher, said we’ve known that light suppresses melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate sleep. But now, all this extra artificial light — from computer screens, routers, modems, even power strips — is wreaking havoc on sleep cycles and making minor insomnia worse.

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“We’ve done a number of studies to show that light levels that you would be normally exposed to in the home in the evening, for example from a bedside lamp, are very easily capable of shifting the body clock,” Dr. Lockley said.

Lockley said blue wavelengths, in particular, the kind emitted by energy efficient light bulbs and various electronics, can be the most disruptive.

“And yet now-a-days it seems that blue is the color du jour,” said Dr. Nathaniel Watson of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

In addition, studies have linked blue light to depression, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular problems. Now, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine is recommending you cover the lights with tape, dim your screen, or power your electronics down early, ideally two to three hours before bed.

“If you must have screen time before going to bed then limiting the amount of light that’s emitted from the screen would be helpful, so you can turn down the brightness,” Dr. Watson said.

Exposing yourself to lots of bright and natural light during the day can actually help regulate your internal body clock so you’ll sleep better at night.

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