While everyone is obsessed about the launch of new Samsung Galaxy smartphones and iPhones, scientists have something different to tell.
Smartphones and tablets, which are used for hours together by almost everyone, may have a role to play in disrupting sleep and adding to irregular sleep patterns. It is speculated that this may have something to do with the light-emitting diodes, which allow the smartphones and tablets to be used in a dimly lit room, which interfere with melatonin- a hormone responsible for controlling the natural sleep-wake cycle in humans.
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A study from Mayo Clinic, however, may have a solution to this problem. This study by Mayo, presented at SLEEP 2013, the Associated Professional Sleep Societies annual meeting, suggests dimming the smartphone or tablet to overcome sleep problems.
"In the old days people would go to bed and read a book. Well, much more commonly people go to bed and they have their tablet on which they read a book or they read a newspaper or they're looking at material. The problem is it's a lit device, and how problematic is the light source from the mobile device?" Lois Krahn, MD, a psychiatrist and a sleep expert at Mayo Clinic, and co-author of the study, explained.
For this particular study, the researchers studied how the light emitted by smartphones and tablets, when held at different distances from a person's face in a dimly lit room, affected melatonin and disrupted the sleep cycle of the subject.
Close monitoring revealed that when the brightness settings of these smartphones and tablets were lowered, and they were held just above a foot away from the patients face, the risk of suffering a sleep disorder was considerably low.
"There's a lot of concern about using mobile devices and that prompted me to wonder, are they always a negative factor for sleep?" Dr. Krahn added. "We found that only at the highest setting was the light over a conservative threshold that might affect melatonin levels. If it's at the mid setting or at a low setting it's bright enough to use."
This is not the first time that the harmful effects of smartphone use have been revealed, many other studies in the past also elaborate on how overuse of smartphones could lead to certain mental problems including lack of concentration, depression and more.