The Loh Down On Science

Night Lights

If you can’t sleep, turn off the lights!  No—all those other lights!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Boy, do we love our computers, smart phones, and tablets. But some studies are showing that our use of them is impairing our sleep!

Meet researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. They study people's exposure to devices with backlit screens. They've found that just two hours of exposure can somewhat suppress melatonin. That's the hormone that helps regulate sleep.

The team set up three experimental groups, with volunteers of various ages. One group looked directly at a tablet. The other two looked at a tablet through goggles that simulated different lighting conditions.

And? Turns out melatonin production is affected by how long you're exposed to light and how much light hits the back of your eyes. Exposure for one hour did pretty much nothing. But once users hit the two-hour mark, melatonin plummeted. Especially in teens.

But hey, insomnia—isn’t there an app for that?  I’m sure there is-I’ll just keep Googling.

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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