Electronic devices that emit bright, artificial light such as laptops, smartphones and televisions are causing people to not get a proper night’s sleep, according to a new report.
Average sleep times in the UK have decreased in the past 50 years
Unnatural light disturbs the human body’s rhythm and the light can cause further disruption by impacting chemicals in the brain and may influence people to use caffeine stimulants.
The report did not have any new individual evidence or data but lead author Charles Czeisler has drawn upon previous studies and has over 35 years of experience of sleep, human behaviour and performance.
The report was published in the journal Nature.
Professor Charles Czeisler, an expert of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School, believes that exposure to these bright artificial lights could block the effect of brain cells that help promote feeling sleepy and also stop the effects of melatonin.
Melatonin is a hormone that is an integral part of the human sleep cycle and its release into the body is linked to darkness. Once the sun goes down and the light fades melatonin is released into the body and you feel less alert and more inclined to sleep.
With modern society surrounded by artificial light the natural release of melatonin is prohibited and can cause a disruption to your sleep pattern.
According to Czeisler, between 1950 and 2000 the use of artificial light increased fourfold for the typical UK person. There is a correlation between this and one’s increase in sleep deficiency.
Czeisler said: “There are many reasons why people get insufficient sleep in our 24/7 society, from early starts at work or school, or long commutes, to caffeine-rich food and drink.
“But the precipitating factor is an often unappreciated, technological breakthrough: the electric light. Without it, few people would use caffeine to stay awake at night. And light affects our circadian rhythms more powerfully than any drug."
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