New research is confirming that using your laptop, tablet, or smartphone in the hours before bedtime could lead to a less restful night.
The research, conducted at the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, showed that two hours of iPad use at maximum brightness was enough to suppress normal nighttime release of melatonin, a key hormone in the body’s internal clock. Melatonin tells your body that it is night, helping to make you sleepy.
The type of light, brightness, and length of time determines whether it affects melatonin. Light in the blue-and-white range emitted by today’s tablets and smartphones can do the trick—as can laptops and desktop computers, which emit even more of the disrupting light. The good news about laptops, however, is that their screens are usually further away from the eyes.
To mitigate the effects, turn your tech device’s brightness down, particularly if you use it at night for an alarm clock. For better results, turn off the screen altogether.
There IS good news from the study for all of you tech addicts. The researchers found that using your tech device first thing in the morning can actually help wake you up, and can actually be used in light therapy for those with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or other light-based problems.