Light From Tablet Computers Reduces Melatonin, Delaying Sleep

This news comes from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York —  the nation’s oldest technological university.

A new study from the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute shows that a two-hour exposure to electronic devices with self-luminous “backlit” displays causes melatonin suppression, which might lead to delayed sleep at bedtimes, especially in teens.

The research team, led by Mariana Figueiro, associate professor at Rensselaer and director of the Light and Health Program, tested the effects of self-luminous tablets on melatonin suppression. In order to simulate typical usage of these devices, 13 individuals used self-luminous tablets to read, play games, and watch movies.

Results of the study, titled “Light level and duration of exposure determine the impact of self-luminous tablets on melatonin suppression,” were recently published in the journal Applied Ergonomics.

“Our study shows that a two-hour exposure to light from self-luminous electronic displays can suppress melatonin by about 22 percent. Stimulating the human circadian system to this level may affect sleep in those using the devices prior to bedtime,” said Mariana.

Until manufacturers develop more “circadian-friendly” electronic devices that increase or decrease light exposure based on time of day, Figueiro has several recommendations to reduce their effects on sleep. “We recommended dimming these devices at night as much as possible in order to minimize melatonin suppression, and limiting the amount of time spent using these devices prior to bedtime.”

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From: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York http://news.rpi.edu/

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