According to research performed by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the use of electronic devices close to bedtime can be detrimental to sleep. The study found that exposure to artificial light in the blue end of the light spectrum – the type of light which is emitted by laptops, smartphones and tablets – inhibits the production of melatonin, an important hormone in the sleep process. In addition, researchers noted that the use of electronic devices stimulates brain activity and disrupts the circadian rhythms which regulate the body’s natural cycles of wakefulness and sleepiness.
Alcohol consumption close to bedtime can have similar effects, especially on circadian rhythms. Even light drinking before bed can inhibit a person’s ability to stay asleep or fall into the deepest, most restful stages of sleep, according to the study. Student lifestyles show increased usage of both alcohol and electronic devices close to bedtime, which can have a profound combined effect on sleep quality.
Researchers from Lightning Research Centre advise students (or anyone using electronics before bed) to use caution and take preventative measures to help keep your sleep quality high.
“Although turning off devices at night is the ultimate solution, it is recommended that if these devices are used at night displays are dimmed as much as possible and that the time spent on them before bed should be limited,” they said.
Obesity, diabetes, depression, concentration deficits, memory lapses, and decreased overall cognitive ability are among the health and cognitive risks associated with poor sleep habits.