Can't Sleep? Your Computer's Light May Be Keeping You Up at Night

The light emitted by our cell phones, computers, and TVs might be robbing you of sleep.

Sounds strange?

You've probably noticed your cell phone and computer give off an eerie blue color in the dark.
One sleep specialist says something that small may be keeping you up at night.

It's late, and you should be sleeping but you're not, and you're not alone.

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"In that hour before bedtime, there are millions of Americans who are getting exposed to bright light, blue light from their computer screens or television screens," said Dr. Russell Rosenberg, CEO, Atlanta School for Sleep Medicine.

Because that blue-glow your favorite gadget is giving off may be ruining your sleep, says Dr. Russell Rosenberg, CEO of the Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine.

Dr. Rosenberg says the blue wavelength computers, and phones, and TVs give off, triggers our inner alarm clock to say, "It's daytime, buddy, Wake up!"

"Because it hits your eyes, sends a signal down to the part of the brain that regulates our sleep-wake clock. Then that's what determines how much melatonin gets released in the brain," said Rosenberg.

And even low light can suppress melatonin, the so-called sleep hormone.

"So it's the exposure to light, which tells the brain, "Don't produce melatonin!" It suppresses melatonin. That's what signals the brain, "It's either time for sleep, or time for waking."

So, if you're on your gadget right up to bedtime, it's harder to get to sleep. And if you turn it on - in the middle of the night - you may not be able to get back to sleep.

Dr. Rosenberg recommends turning the devices off an hour before bedtime, and not checking them if you wake up. If you're too hooked to do that,

Try F.lux . It's a free download that will slowly adjust the color temperature of your monitor so that as it becomes later, it becomes warmer, and less disruptive to your sleep.

Or, try a light box. It uses blue light -- the light most likely to wake us up -- to readjust our body clock. Helping night owls go to bed earlier, and early-birds put off bedtime.

Most light boxes come with timers. But Rosenberg says you have to sit close to the light, with your eyes wide open.

"The light will have no effect on you if your eyes are closed or your head is buried in the pillow."

You can find light boxes on the Internet - most come with timers. If you're not sleeping - then it's time to talk to your doctor - about your options.

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