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Low on sleep? Stop computing before bed
A National Sleep Foundation poll suggests our smartphones and laptops are robbing us of much-needed rest
 
Time to shut down? A national sleep study finds a connection between less sleep and more technology.
Time to shut down? A national sleep study finds a connection between less sleep and more technology.
Corbis

Laptops and smartphones may keep you informed and connected like never before, but they also could be keeping you from getting enough sleep. A poll by the nonprofit National Sleep Foundation found a suspicious correlation between our use of high-tech gadgets and our worsening sleep habits. Here, a brief guide to the findings:

What is the connection between sleep and smartphones?
Forty-three percent of poll respondents said they rarely or never get a good night's sleep. And nearly 95 percent reported that they frequently use a computer, smartphone, TV, or other electronic device in the hour before bedtime. "Technology has invaded the bedroom," says study task force member Charles Czeisler, as quoted by Reuters, and that's one reason so many Americans "routinely get less sleep than they need."

Do laptops cause other sleep-related problems?
Yes. According to the researchers' statement announcing their findings, "artificial-light exposure between dusk and the time we go to bed at night suppresses release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin." That means the glare of your laptop "enhances alertness and shifts circadian rhythms to a later hour, making it more difficult to fall asleep."

Wait, are we certain technology is to blame?
No, but the correlation is real. Respondents between the ages of 13 and 29 were more likely to rate themselves as "sleepy" than older generations. And it was young, tech-savvy respondents who were most likely to take technology to bed: Half of teenagers and 20-somethings admitted to using their computers nearly every night before bed, and 10 percent of teenagers said their sleep was disrupted nearly every night by their cell phones.

Is this all Facebook's fault?
Maybe... According to another recent study, 19 percent of people under 25 reported posting to Facebook or Twitter whenever they wake up during the night, and 28 percent of iPhone users said they logged on to social-networking sites before even getting out of bed in the morning. "TV and computers have been a pre-bedtime staple for a while now," says Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group, as quoted by Computerworld. "What do these National Sleep Foundation people expect us to do at night? Talk to each other?"

Sources: Huffington Post, National Sleep Foundation, Computerworld (2), Wash. Post

 

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