A new study shows that a two-hour exposure to electronic devices with self-luminous “backlit” displays causes melatonin suppression, which might lead to delayed bedtimes, especially in teens.
Researcher Mariana Figueiro says, "Our study shows that a two-hour exposure to light from self-luminous electronic displays can suppress melatonin by about 22%. Stimulating the human circadian system to this level may affect sleep in those using the devices prior to bedtime." And hey, what else could be doing it?
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland at night under conditions of darkness. It’s a "timing messenger," signaling nighttime information throughout the body. Exposure to light at night, especially short-wavelength light, can slow or even cease nocturnal melatonin production.
Suppression of melatonin by light at night resulting in circadian disruption has been implicated in sleep disturbances, increased risk for diabetes and obesity (and we have asolution for that problem as well), as well as increased risk for more serious diseases, such as breast cancer, if circadian disruption occurs for many consecutive years, such as in nightshift workers.
Researcher Brittany Wood says, "Technology developments have led to bigger and brighter televisions, computer screens, and cell phones. To produce white light, these electronic devices must emit light at short wavelengths, which makes them potential sources for suppressing or delaying the onset of melatonin in the evening, reducing sleep duration and disrupting sleep. This is particularly worrisome in populations such as young adults and adolescents, who already tend to be night owls."
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