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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Technology Keeps Millions of People Awake on Night

Using technology before you turn in seems to the culprit behind getting a good night's sleep. At least those are the findings of the National Sleep Foundation in its Sleep in America 2011 poll. In the poll Americans report active technology use before trying to sleep. Almost every surveyed, 95 percent, used some kind of electronics from the television to a cell phone a least a few nights a week within the hour before bed.
However different age groups reported different preferences. Baby boomers (46 to 64-year-olds) and Generation Xers (30 to 45-year-olds), reported about the same levels, 67 percent and 63 percent, of television watching an hour before going to bed. Generation Y (19 to 29-year-olds) and Generation Z (13 to 18-year olds) had different technology preferences.
"Actually light exposure between dusk and the time we go to bed at night suppresses release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, enhances alertness and shifts circadian rhythms to a later hour—making it more difficult to fall asleep," Charles Czeisler, Ph.D, MD, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, said in a press release. "This study reveals that light-emitting screens are in heavy use within the pivotal hour before sleep. Invasion of such alerting technologies into the bedroom may contribute to the high proportion of respondents who reported the routinely get less sleep than they need."
Computer and laptop use is also common before bed. About six in 10 respondents said they used laptops or computers a least a few nights a week before bed. The younger users said they used them almost every night before sleep.
"My research compares how technologies are 'passively received,' such as TVs and music, versus those with 'interactive' properties like video games, cell phones and the Internet may affect the brain differently," said Michael Gradisar, Ph.D., Flinders University (Australia) in the press release. "The hypothesis is that the latter devices are more alerting and disrupt the sleep-onset process. If you feel that these activities are alerting or causing you anxiety, try doing something more passive to help you wind down before bed."

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