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Posted at 3:22 PM ET, 03/ 7/2011

Does your connected life make you lose sleep?

By Hayley Tsukayama

A study from the National Sleep Foundation on the relationship between communications technology and sleep has found that 43 percent of Americans say they rarely or never get a good night's sleep.

Nearly 95 percent of those surveyed said that they use some kind of electronic device in the hour before bedtime. Those between the ages of 13 and 29 were far more likely to use interactive technology, such as the Internet, cell phones and video games in that hour than passive technology such as televisions. Still, about 61 percent of those surveyed said they use a computer or laptop within an hour of going to bed.

The problem, according to the NSF, is that artificial light -- such as the glow of a screen -- can be disruptive to the body's production of melatonin, which helps you sleep. Participating in interactive activities also keeps your brain engaged, which can make it difficult to fall asleep.

Gadgets beeping and blinking can also disrupt your sleep, of course, and the study found that around a tenth of 13- to 18-year-olds, a fifth of those ages 30 to 64 are awakened by their cell phones at least a few times a week.

The study recommends sticking to a sleep schedule, avoiding bright lights in the hour before bed and to avoid taking late afternoon naps to help you catch up on sleep.

By Hayley Tsukayama  | March 7, 2011; 3:22 PM ET
 
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Comments

"Gadgets beeping and blinking can also disrupt your sleep, of course, and the study found that around a tenth of 13- to 18-year-olds, a fifth of those ages 30 to 64 are awakened by their cell phones at least a few times a week."

Unless a cell phone is your only phone, such that you need to keep it in the bedroom so that someone can call you in an emergency, I don't understand why anybody would keep a turned-on cell phone (or other similar device) in the bedroom at night. I turn my cell phone off when I'm going to head upstairs for bed, regardless of whether I leave it on the dresser or downstairs on a side table, because I don't need it during the night--I certainly don't need to read e-mail or sports scores, and family members who might have a true emergency can call my regular phone.

The other situation where it might make sense to have a cell phone turned on at night is if your power went out and you used your phone as a backup alarm clock, I suppose.

Posted by: 1995hoo | March 7, 2011 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I don't know whether it works as claimed, but I found a program called f.lux that automatically changes the screen lighting according to the time of day--warmer at night, for instance, instead of the cold blue light. It's based on your location and the time of year as well as time of day. It's supposed to help with the problem of artificial light keeping you wakeful. I don't know about that. I just like the subtle color change at night. It's oddly orange at first, but once you get used to it, it can be quite nice.

Posted by: moxilator | March 7, 2011 6:41 PM | Report abuse

"Does your connected life make you lose sleep?" No. I learned the value of sleep when I was in the Army. Team Spirit 86 I went a week on 2 hours sleep a night.

I have blackout curtains, cover the display of the clock, and keep the cell phone (which is the only phone I've got) face down so that the blinkenlights on it aren't visible.

Also, no caffeine after 6:30PM.

Posted by: wiredog | March 8, 2011 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Ridiculous...I'm 65...play at least an hour of XBox before going to bed, leave my iPod on all night @ SOMA.FM. I sleep like a baby. Yeah, I wake up once in a while because Groove Salad plays some really esoteric stuff. I actually LIKE to wake up during the night - I do a check to make sure I'm still alive and how long I've got left to sleep until it's time to get up. What I REALLY hate is waking up about 15 minutes BEFORE the alarm goes off.

Posted by: GonzoFan | March 8, 2011 11:26 AM | Report abuse

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