Turn Off the Computer!


Thumbnail image for light-light_crealev_2b.jpg

            Finishing up that last paper before you go to bed for the night?  Falling asleep in bed while watching a movie?  We all are constantly using electronics, 24/7 (or at least every hour were awake).  They're extremely useful and convenient, but they can be bad for us to use.  Not only so consistently like many people are aware of, but even more so right before bed.

Using technology before going to sleep leaves people feeling tired the next day and unable to perform daily tasks at 100%.  Charles Czeisler, a scientist with the Harvard Medical School and head of the Hospital for Gynecology in Boston, claims that "exposure to artificial light just before bedtime increases the metabolism and reduces the release of melatonin, a hormone responsible for regulating sleep."  

Interestingtopics.net stated that in a study conducted, 95% of participants said that they used technology before bed and 67% admitted they were not sleeping enough.  To back up this study, they compared it to the Baby Boom generation (people ages 46-64) are the biggest group that put their kids to sleep with the television versus lullabies.  The study followed by showing that as many as 22% of teenagers admitted they are constantly sleepy, compared to nine percent of baby boomers that weren't revealed to as much technology growing up.

            Another article I found on telegraph.co.uk also agrees with this statement.  They claimed that "a person's brain is biologically wired to be awake when the sun is out because bright light after dark causes the brain to stop secreting the hormone called melatonin that makes us sleepy."  The extra light we're revealed to confuses the brain.  The article also explains why a lamp is does not affect us the way our electronics do because we are not looking directly into the light it's giving off.

            Although both of these articles gave good evidence, it was still not matching up with our definition of the "scientific method", but this last study does.

            In a study published in the journal Applied Ergonomics, they had participants read, play games and watch movies on an IPad or PC tablet for different amounts of time and measured the light their eyes were revealed to.  The study found that "two hours of exposure to a bright tablet screen at night reduced melatonin levels by about 22 percent." 

            Overall, I believe that all of these articles are good evidence that we can credit our technology for keeping us up so late at night, even on those nights were not trying to.  The last study had a control trial because they measure the participant's melatonin levels before participating in the trial and using the gadgets directly before bed.  The only fault I could think of is if they were any third variables involved during the study that were not controlled (but they seem unlikely).  It is unlikely, but nobody has tested that a third variable causes younger generations to sleep less, which could result in reverse causation.  Since we are sleeping less, we have more time to spend on our technology.  With this being said, it's probably best to finish your work earlier in the day.

Age vs. Technology Use Compared to Fatigue


First Article: http://www.interestingtopics.net/say-no-to-technology-before-bedtime-id-520


Second Study: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/7731807/Using-laptops-or-iPads-just-before-bed-increases-risk-of-insomnia.html


Third Study: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/10/really-using-a-computer-before-bed-can-disrupt-sleep/?_r=0


Last Study: http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/press-release/annual-sleep-america-poll-exploring-connections-communications-technology-use-


Picture: http://mocoloco.com/archives/025718.php


Personally i think that watching tv before i go to bed helps me fall asleep because i can just shut my mind off for a little and relax. Maybe if i got out of the habit of watching tv before be i will realize that it is much better to turn off the electronics. check out this interesting list of myths and facts about going to sleep.

In your last paragraph you had briefly mentioned the possibility for a third variable. Out of the 3 experiments listed, only one is experimental. Since observation is a huge factor in your assumptions (2/3) I believe the existence of a third variable is more possible than you think. The 22% of teenagers who claim they're always sleepy compared to the 9% of baby boomers. Although the baby boomers weren't introduced to technology like teenagers are today, adults and teenagers are going through very much different parts of life. The third variable may be explained by the simplicity that teens need about 9 1/4 hours of sleep each night to function contrary to he seven to eight hours every night adults need. The use of technology does not aid the teenager in getting his/her rightful night of sleep but it is not the only variable to explain a teenager's sleepiness.

This is something I have heard a lot about before how watching TV before you go to bed or leaving it on while you sleep hurts how you sleep and degrades how good of a sleep you get. I can kind of agree with the latter part leaving on your TV could degrade how good of a sleep you get because you can still hear it, the watching TV/on the computer before you sleep I am not sure about. I tend to watch TV or browse the internet before I sleep and most of the times I sleep well. But then again, maybe if I start not doing that maybe I will find out that by doing it my sleep has become better and I can do it for longer. Guess it is something I will have to try out someday.

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