Feeling Tired? Your Mobile Device May be the Culprit

You probably use your smartphone and tablet for everything from communication to playing games and reading. You may read everything from books to performing online searches. Nonetheless, you might have already read reports stating that looking at screens before bedtime can impact the quality of your sleep. Now, new research shows that this issue is a lot worse than previously thought.

According to studies released from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, reading an iPad before sleeping makes it both harder to get some shut-eye, and it makes you sleepier the next morning. The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday. These findings affect anyone who uses a laptop, smartphone, eReader and specific TVs before dozing off.

Dr. Anne-Marie Chang, an associate neuroscientist in BWH’s Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders who was a co-author on the study, asserted "We know from previous work that light from screens in the evening alters sleepiness and alertness, and suppresses melatonin levels. This study shows comprehensive results of a direct comparison between reading with a light-emitting device and reading a printed book and the consequences on sleep."

Perhaps you now have the answer to why you have been feeling extremely sluggish lately. Think about how much digital screen reading you have been doing the night before. What does this mean? Well, if you cherish your sleep and energy, then it is best to stick to a printed book if you enjoy reading before bed.

There are many health issues linked to a lack of sleep including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Of course, you should always do everything you can to improve and stimulate your mind. The point is to do it safely so that your health is not affected.

The study went on for two weeks with 12 volunteers. Each of the participants were asked to read on an iPad for four hours ahead of bedtime for five days straight. This same request was made with printed books, as well. As a result, the iPad readers took a lot longer to finally go to bed, they felt less sleepy and had a shorter REM sleep relative to the volunteers who read the printed books. The findings also showed that iPad readers secreted less melatonin, which is necessary for regulating your sleep. In addition, even though both groups got eight hours of sleep, the iPad readers were more much more tired the next day.

If you have to read on your mobile device, it is recommended to use a filter that blocks blue light. Android has an app for that, while you have to purchase a physical filter for Apple devices. On a laptop, you can use an application called F.lux. The blue light is what makes you feel more alert and reduces your melatonin secretion. The best idea is to avoid reading on computer screens before bedtime. Yet, if you must use a computer, use a blue light filter.

Photo: Pexels

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