Need More Sleep? Turn Off Your Gadgets!

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A new survey by the National Sleep Foundation confirms what most of us already know: Nearly all Americans are too connected -- either to their televisions or other gadgets -- too close to bedtime.

Of course, it's only a problem if you believe that a good night's sleep is important and that you're not experiencing enough of them. Fully 6 in 10 Americans say they experience some kind of sleep problem every night or almost every night.

REPORT: Americans spend equal time online and watching TV

Fully 95 percent of those surveyed acknowledged regularly watching TV, using a computer, playing a video game or operating a cell phone in the hour right before bedtime.

"While these technologies are commonplace, it is clear that we have a lot more to learn about the appropriate use and design of this technology to complement good sleep habits," says David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation, in a press release.

The reasons why TV and gadget use disrupt sleep have not been a mystery.

"Artificial light exposure between dusk and the time we go to bed at night suppresses release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, enhances alertness and shifts circadian rhythms to a later hour -- making it more difficult to fall asleep," says Charles Czeisler, Ph.D., M.D., Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. "This study reveals that light-emitting screens are in heavy use within the pivotal hour before sleep. Invasion of such alerting technologies into the bedroom may contribute to the high proportion of respondents who reported that they routinely get less sleep than they need."

You can read a summary of the findings here (.pdf). And the NSF has provided a profile of sleep-deprived Americans broken down by age groups; that chart can be seen here.

As for remedies (aside from the obvious step of turning the TV off), you may want consider a "sleep coach," although that would mean the use of yet another gadget.

Meanwhile, another sleep-related survey finds that fully one-third of Americans are dreading Sunday's changeover to daylight saving time.

Few if any of those people are from Arizona.

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This story, "Need More Sleep? Turn Off Your Gadgets!" was originally published by Network World.

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