If you find yourself nodding off at work because you have trouble sleeping at night, you're not alone. Nearly two-thirds of Americans claim they don't get enough sleep, according to a National Sleep Foundation poll. Using a cellphone or computer before bedtime may be to blame, researchers say.
The use of technology before bedtime has been shown to have a negative impact on sleep, stress levels and mental health, said Dr. Dan Naim of Los Angeles Sleep Study Institute, citing a research study of 4,100 young adults from the University of Gothenburg's Sahlgrenska Academy that examined their use of technology at nighttime and the effect it had on their mental health.
"Regularly using a computer late at night is associated not only with sleep disorders but also with stress and depressive symptoms in both men and women," said lead researcher Sara Thoméet. "Those who find the constant accessibility via cellphones to be stressful are most likely to report mental symptoms."
Research shows that interactive technologies such as video games, cellphones and the Internet might affect the brain differently than those which are “passively received,” such as TV and music.
Cellphones and computers can interfere with sleep because the screens are so bright they inhibit the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, which is produced in dark surroundings, Naim said. He recommended limiting the excessive use of screens at night.
"While most of us need to use cellphones and computers, it’s best to keep these distractions to a minimum at night, when we’re supposed to wind down and prepare for sleep," he said. "Keeping a cellphone by your bed at night may not be the best way to ensure a good night’s rest and could lower your productivity the next day."