Smartphones and Computers Contribute to Sleep Deprivation

According to a recent study released by the University of Hertfordshire, the number of sleep deprived Brits has increased by a whopping 50 percent over the last year due to increased smartphone and computer use before bed.

According to the study, nearly 6 in 10 Brits now get seven hours or less of sleep per night which puts them at an increased risk of developing cancer, diabetes, weight gain, and even heart attacks. This is made worse by increased use of technology prior to sleeping which almost 80 percent of people are doing on a regular basis. This increased use of technology exposes them to blue light which, in itself, is harmless. However, blue light is present in morning light, making the body think that it is time to get up rather than lie down and sleep. The majority of people, the study found, are exposing themselves to blue light via smartphones and computers before bed, causing restless sleep, insomnia, and nightmares. The age group suffering most from this trend is 18-24 year olds, 91 percent of which claim they use a smartphone or computer within two hours of bedtime.

"The blue light from these devices suppress the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, and so it's important to avoid them before bedtime," explained Richard Wiseman, professor in the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. "This is a huge rise in sleep deprivation and the results are extremely worrying because getting less than seven hours sleep a night is below the recommended guidelines, and is associated with a range of problems, including an increased risk of weight gain, heart attacks, diabetes and cancer." While this study only looked at the UK, the findings are applicable worldwide.

Photo credit: Farouq Taj via Flickr