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Study: Screen Light Resets Internal Clock

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Ever wonder why it is so hard to get to bed after perusing social media on your smartphone device right before shut-eye? A recent study reveals that your eye’s light-sensitive cells tend to reset their own internal clock when exposed to too much screen time.

As many of us are exposed to artificial light sources as it is, the traditional sleep-wake cycles that are linked to day and night have been thrown out the window. Now with tablets, smartphones, and other devices, screen time further enhances the general public’s exposure to artificial light.

Referred to as the circadian rhythm, we all have an internal clock that is linked to a 24-hour day and night configuration. This “internal clock” helps you to feel sleepy at night, and wakeful during the day hours (although coffee can help with that too). All joking aside, light helps to signal these feelings to the brain, monitoring a solid sleep-wake pattern through a daily (and nightly) cycle.

Every part of your body, from the organs, cells, and tissues, depend on this internal clock as a timekeeper, ensuring you go to sleep and get enough shut-eye to function.

Having said that, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 50-70 million Americans across the country are struggling with sleep disorders.

Medical News Today revealed that the recent study pinpointed a collection of retina cells, a light-sensitive membrane located within the inside (back) of the eye. While they are sensitive to light, they are not part of the process of transmitting images to the brain, rather they calculate ambient light level to provide signals around biological mechanisms.

Melanopsin, a protein in these cells, assist when it comes to the ambient light process. Extensive light exposure can result in the protein to renew inside these cells. Continuation of this renewal around melanopsin then sends messages to a person’s brain around light conditions; the brain uses that when it comes to regulating alertness, consciousness and sleep.

When this is prolonged, and exposed to bright light, a signal is sent that “resets” a person’s biological clock. This will thus block the hormone that helps bring sleep on, melatonin, making it hard for one to fall asleep, and stay asleep.

Interesting research that already supports that idea that too much device use, especially before bed, is not good for one’s sleep.

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