Screen-Time Before Bed Can Disrupt Sleep, Says Study
We have all experienced the effect of staring into our phones for hours just before sleep time. Dozing off, which should be one of the most effortless of tasks, is extremely susceptible to screen time. A study by researchers at Salk Institute has now provided an explanation behind this susceptibility.
The study, published in the journal Cell Reports, has shown how certain cells in the eye process ambient light and thereby reset the internal clocks of the body, also known as the circadian rhythm.
Exposing them to artificial light at night can confuse this rhythm and lead to many health issues.
In the words of Salk Professor Satchin Panda, senior author of the study,
The sensory membrane behind our eye, called retina, contains tiny light-sensitive cells which are similar to pixels in a camera.
Exposing these cells to ongoing light regenerates a protein called melanopsin, that signals levels of ambient light directly to the brain to instigate consciousness, alertness, and sleep.
“Compared to other light-sensing cells in the eye, melanopsin cells respond as long as the light lasts, or even a few seconds longer,” says Ludovic Mure, co-author of the paper.
The results of the study might make possible the discovery of new treatments for sleep related problems like insomnia, jet lag or migraines, which can further lead to chronic issues.