Our bodies keep the beat of a circadian rhythm. Our ancestors went to sleep when their natural light ran out, and woke up when the sun rose again. Modern technology has let the sunshine in 24 hours a day, which is great for watching old movies on your iPad late at night, but as it turns out, rotten for getting a good night’s sleep.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School and other research institutions say that the blue light thrown off by sources that range from cell phone screens to energy efficient light bulbs can mess with our sleep patterns by suppressing melatonin, the hormone that helps us fall asleep and wake up per nature’s schedule. Researchers also suspect that heavy use of blue light at night can contribute to cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
So what’s a night owl to do? For starters, stop reading your email before bedtime. And don’t grab for an electronic device if you find yourself awake in the middle of the night. Instead, outfit your bedside lamp with a red bulb (red light is the least likely to affect melatonin) and read a book or magazine in paper form instead of their virtual counterparts.
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