Gadgets

Do Your Gadgets Rob You of Sleep?

Researchers have discovered that relatively little exposure to tablets and other electronics with backlit displays can keep people up at night by messing with their circadian rhythms.

The study from the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute showed that a two-hour exposure to electronic devices with such displays causes suppression of the melatonin hormone and could make it especially tough for teens to fall asleep. The study, funded by Sharp Laboratories of America, simulated usage of such devices among 13 people using special glasses/goggles and light meters (see photo).

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The researchers say they hope their findings might help manufacturers design more "circadian-friendly" gear, perhaps even reducing circadian stimulation at night and boosting it in the morning.

"Individuals would be able to receive light treatments while playing games or watching movies, making light therapy much more enjoyable than just sitting in front of a light box," according to RPI.

For now, the researchers recommend dimming backlit devices such as tablets when using them at night, and they suggest limiting their use at night in the first place. (See also Bedside Tech: 20 Gadgets for a Sound Night's Sleep.").

Bob Brown tracks network research in his Alpha Doggs blog and Facebook page, as well on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/alphadoggs and Google +.

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