Researchers at Harvard Medical School have determined specific wavelengths of light -- such as the blueish glow emitted by smartphone screens -- can suppress melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.
Bloomberg reports that while email and text notifications may interrupt sleep, staring at the screens late at night may be even more harmful.
“It’s our exposure to artificial light, particularly in the evening between the timing of sunset and when you normally go to bed, that’s dramatically changed the timing of our endogenous circadian rhythms,” Charles A. Czeisler, a professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School, told Bloomberg.
Light-emitting diodes (LEDs), used in flat-panel televisions, computer displays and smartphone screens, are the most problematic, Czeisler advised.
Insufficient sleep has become so prevalent, the CDC has declared it a "public health epidemic." Round-the-clock access to technology was listed as one of the causes.
"Sleep is increasingly recognized as important to public health, with sleep insufficiency linked to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors," the CDC report stated. "Unintentionally falling asleep, nodding off while driving, and having difficulty performing daily tasks because of sleepiness all may contribute to these hazardous outcomes. Persons experiencing sleep insufficiency are also more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity."
The CDC suggests adults need 7-8 hours of sleep each night, but 30 percent of adults currently get six hours or less.
This lack of sleep, according to a CBS report, is a serious drain on the economy costing $31.1 billion a year just from insomnia-related workplace accidents alone.
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