Electronic glow affecting Americans' sleep
By Sophie Terbush, USA TODAY
Updated Mar 07, 2011 12:01 AM |
Watching television or using electronic devices such as an iPad or a cellphone can disrupt your sleep if you do it too close to bedtime.
In the National Sleep Foundation's 2011 Sleep in America poll, out today, 95% of the 1,508 people surveyed reported using some type of electronic device — such as a TV, computer, video game or cellphone — within an hour of bedtime at least a few nights a week.
All these devices can affect the quality of sleep, says Lauren Hale, associate professor of preventive medicine at Stony Brook (N.Y.) University School of Medicine, one of the researchers involved in the study.
"Communication technologies are often light-emitting, which can suppress the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin and make it harder to go to sleep at night." Both the light and alert sounds from such devices can interfere with falling asleep and staying asleep, she says.
"The hypothesis is that more active technologies are worse for sleep because of the psychological effect of being stimulated at night," Hale says. "When you turn on the TV or game, it may be easier to fall into the trap of doing it for longer than you had imagined," so Americans end up substituting technology use for sleep time.
Watching TV is the most popular distraction for all ages: Two-thirds of respondents ages 30-64 and half of those ages 13-29 watch television every night or almost every night in the hour before going to sleep.
About 61% of those surveyed also reported using their laptops or computers at least a few nights a week within that hour, and about half of young people ages 13-29 surf the Internet every night or almost every night before bedtime (55% of those ages 13-18 and 47% of those ages 19-29).
Nighttime cellphone use is also common among young people: 56% of 13- to 18-year-olds and 42% of 19- to 29-year-olds said they read, send or receive text messages every night or almost every night.
About one in five said they are awakened after going to bed at least a few nights a week by a phone call, text message or e-mail.