Computers have been a ubiquitous part of our lives for the last couple decades. However, mobile computing has brought computers into more and more parts of our lives. Today, it’s not uncommon for someone to log off their work computer, use the computer on their phone as they walk home, then turn on their tablet computer in front of the living room TV.
In short, computers are an inescapable part of our lives. But according to sleep researchers at the National Sleep Foundation, that’s not a good thing. Apparently, the artificial light emitted by computer monitors and displays changes the way our brain thinks about time. Instead of thinking that it’s time to go to bed, our brain begins to think that it’s time to wake up. Our internal clock gets all messed up, and this leads to poorer sleep.
In more technical terms, the artificial light created by computer screens lowers the levels of melatonin in our system. Melatonin plays a key role in how our internal clocks operate, and fluctuating melatonin levels have been linked to a raised risk of obesity, diabetes, and other serious conditions.
Whether you’re a college student trying to cram the night (or early morning) before a test, or you’re just catching one last Facebook update before bed, maybe it’s time to separate your computer life and your sleep life. It could be affecting more parts of your life than you realize.
Fortunately, there are ways to get around this problem without avoiding computer use. One of the best things to do is dim your computer screen – particularly at night. This will have less of an effect on your brain. In addition, try to avoid using a computer within half an hour to an hour of going to bed. Pick up a book or read a magazine instead.