<<Basking in the blue glow of iPads, smartphones and other electronic devices before bedtime could be messing up our sleep patterns more profoundly than we realize, and even affecting our long-term health, according to a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
A growing body of evidence has suggested what many people have experienced firsthand - that the pervasive glow of electronic gadgets can hinder a good night's sleep. But researchers behind Monday's study, which was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, set out to decipher what changes in the body cause those disruptions.
During a two-week inpatient experiment involving a dozen adults, some participants were asked to read on an iPad for four hours each night before bedtime, for five consecutive nights. Others read printed books in dim light. After a week, the groups switched.
Researchers found that participants using iPads displayed reduced levels of melatonin, a hormone that typically increases in the evening and helps induce sleepiness. They took longer to fall asleep, and spent less time in restorative REM, or rapid-eye movement, sleep.
In addition, the iPad readers reported being sleepier and less alert the following morning, even after eight hours of sleep. They also displayed delayed circadian rhythms.>>