Harvard Study Confirms Late-Night Use of Smartphones and Tablets Adversely Impacts Sleep, Alertness

By Paul Riegler on 23 December 2014
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DSC_0248A Harvard Medical School study confirms that using a device such as a smartphone or tablet before going to bed will disrupt sleep patterns, something that will come as no surprise to regular readers of Frequent Business Traveler magazine.

The type of artificial light emitted by iPhones, Android devices, and iPads, namely blue wavelengths emitted by fluorescent and LED lights, disturbs the body’s circadian rhythm or internal clock, which is accustomed to natural light.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, studied the sleeping patterns of 12 volunteers over a two-week period.  Over a period of five days, each individual read a book on paper before the strictly enforced 10:00 p.m. bedtime; this was followed by five days during which the same individuals read a book using an Apple iPad.

Researchers found that it took ten minutes longer to fall asleep when reading something on the iPad, and also that each volunteer received ten minutes less REM sleep.  Lab work revealed that reading the iPad resulted in lower levels of melatonin, a sleep hormone, in the body that is consistent with a circadian cycle delayed by one and one half hours.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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