Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Artificial devices before bed a no-no

Courtesy of The Daily Herald

At night, the light throws the body's inner clock — the circadian rhythm — out of sync, which in turn can affect your sleep. The combination of poor sleep and exposure to artificial light may contribute to a number of health problems, according to the Harvard Health Letter.

Studies have linked working the night shift and getting exposed to light at night to several types of cancer (including breast and prostate cancer), diabetes, heart disease and obesity. It's not exactly clear why nighttime light exposure seems to be problematic. It could be because exposure to light at night curbs the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms.

Here are some suggestions to consider.

• Use dim red lights for nightlights. Red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin.

• Avoid looking at brightly lit screens such as computers beginning two to three hours before bed.

• If you work a night shift or use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue wavelength-blocking glasses.

• Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your mood and alertness during daylight.

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