6 Startling Truths About Screen Time Before Bed

September 15, 2015 | by DoctorSolve

There’s nothing like a little reading to ease you into a great night’s rest. But if your bedtime reading happens to be on a tablet, you may be doing more harm to your health than you realize. That’s because spending time in front of a tablet could seriously alter your sleep quantity and quality and end up affecting your health in some very dangerous ways.

Tablets, and other devices with similar screens, emit a blue light that leads to insomnia, when experienced before sleep.

Let’s look at the top 6 startling truths about screen time before bed:

1.  Causes Melatonin Suppression

A study carried out by Brigham and Women’s Hospital showed that exposure to light during nighttime suppressed the production of the sleep-controlling hormone melatonin.

Blue light, like the kind emitted by tablets, eReaders, laptops, and smartphones, is the most melatonin-suppressant, leading to disturbed, poor quality sleep.

2.  Could Lead to Deadly Diseases

Suppressing melatonin production causes problems that are far more serious than a few nights of disrupted sleep, however. Suppressed melatonin production can lead to a raised cancer risk, obesity, a dysfunctional immune system, the development of the metabolic syndrome and even heart disease.

3.  Increases Your Chances of Having a Stroke

Nighttime exposure to disruptive blue light from your tablet results in fewer hours of sleep than usual and according to research, shorter sleep can raise your risk of a stroke. In fact, those who regularly get less than 6 hours a night of shut-eye are 4 times more likely to suffer a stroke.

4.  Could Cause Sleep Deprivation-Linked Diabetes

Research shows that insulin resistance, the most important of type 2 diabetes markers, increases dramatically in those who get less than 7 hours of sleep a night. Continued insulin resistance could lead to full-blown type 2 diabetes, so its well-worth putting the tablet away at night and getting the sleep you need.

5.  Leads to Stress and Depression

According to a study published in Nature, nighttime exposure to light from sources like iPads and other screens could cause stress and depression. The study was carried out on rats that were exposed to nighttime light sources and appeared to develop depressive symptoms. The researchers believe that the human brain’s limbic system could be affected by nighttime light sources in the same way.

6.  Could Change Your Genetic Makeup

If you’re a regular nighttime tablet reader, you’re at risk of genetic alteration. When your tablet use leads to interrupted sleep for just 7 nights in a row, your body could begin to undergo 700 different and dangerous genetic shifts that are linked to the emergence of heart disease and obesity.

Although the list above is certainly frightening, there are ways to avoid the dangers brought on by bedtime tablet use. One option is to buy blue light-blocking filters or glasses, for those times when you absolutely need to be on your tablet in the evenings. These devices filter out the short wave blue lights produced by your tablet and can prevent melatonin-suppression, helping you to not only fall and stay asleep but to wake up feeling more rested.

But the best way to prevent the long list of diseases and disorders linked to nighttime tablet use is to simply switch off your device an hour before heading to bed. This easy move will let your body readjust and get in sync with its natural circadian rhythms, allowing you to fully enjoy the revitalizing and protective benefits of a great night’s sleep.

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