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The light from the screens of smartphones seems to significantly worsen our sleep quality
Do you have sleeping problems more often and wish you could finally sleep through the night again? Then maybe you should spend less time on your mobile phone. Researchers have now found that the time spent in front of the screen of mobile phones, especially before going to bed, is associated with a disturbed sleep pattern.
The scientists at the University of California, San Francisco found in an investigation that the time spent in front of the screen of a smartphone seems to disturb our sleep. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Plos One".
Use of the smartphone worsens sleep quality
Are you one of those people who spends a lot of time in front of the screen of their cell phone and then has trouble sleeping at night? Then this is not really surprising, because researchers found a connection between the use of the smartphone and the quality of sleep. The more time someone spends in front of the screen of their mobile phone, the worse the sleep quality will be, explains one of the study authors, Dr. Gregory Marcus from the University of California, San Francisco.
Using electronic devices causes difficulty falling asleep
There is a growing body of evidence that the use of electronic devices leads to difficulty falling asleep. Earlier studies have shown that using these electronic devices at night can cause problems. For example, it was found that smartphones and tablets reduce the quality of sleep in children and adolescents.
Light from the screens suppresses the hormone melatonin
Many of the devices emit strong blue light. It is precisely this light that seems to lead to the problems identified. The light suppresses the hormone melatonin, which usually rises a few hours before falling asleep. The experts explain that melatonin is something like a signal for the body to prepare for sleep. The blue light seems to have an alarming effect on the brain. Viewing content or emails can of course also cause stress, but the simple use of a mobile phone also plays an important role here.
Subjects in the study answered questionnaires and used a special app
For their study, the doctors examined the responses of an online survey that volunteers themselves reported. These were part of a completed international health study called Health eHeart. The participants also downloaded an app on their smartphone, which automatically and continuously collected data on the number of hours spent in front of the screen. When participants used the app for at least 30 days, they were included in the scientists' analysis.
Younger people spend more time in front of the screen
A total of 653 adults completed the study. The results show that participants spent an average of 3.7 minutes per hour on their smartphones. On average, younger people spent a lot more time in front of their phones, the scientists say.
The use of smartphones should be avoided especially shortly before going to bed
Another analysis included the data from 136 participants. This study found that a longer time spent in front of the screen, a few hours before bedtime, was associated with a shorter sleep time. On average, an additional minute of the time spent in front of the screen was associated with a decrease in sleep time of about five minutes, explains Dr. Marcus from the University of California, San Francisco.
Smartphone users are awake longer before going to sleep
The team then looked at smartphone use before bedtime for 56 participants, for whom sufficient data was available. The results showed that an increased time in front of the screen in the hour before bedtime was associated with a larger proportion of the time lying awake in bed. On average, each additional minute in front of the smartphone screen increases the sleep time by one and a half minutes, the experts explain. The study itself does not show whether the increased screen time leads to poorer sleep or whether people with poor sleep use their smartphones more often. Further research should investigate the effects of websites and apps (e.g. Facebook) on human sleep, say the doctors.
Technology needs to be optimized
"I am a big fan of technology and I think technology will help us solve many problems," said Dr. Marcus. However, we should think carefully about how we can optimize the use of this technology and understand the consequences of this use, adds the expert. The causality of the data suggests that the time spent in front of the smartphone screen, especially at bedtime, can be detrimental to a healthy night's sleep, adds Dr. Marcus added.
Effects of poor sleep
Poor sleep is associated with an increased risk of a number of health problems. These include, for example, obesity and an increased risk of stroke, the experts explain. For this reason, the effects of smartphones should urgently be examined more closely. (as)