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article imageSleep and smartphones: The chemistry that keeps you awake

By Tim Sandle     May 31, 2014 in Science
The smartphones and tablets millions of us use every day may also keep us awake. This is according to a video produced by the the American Chemical Society.
The video explains how the light emitted from smartphones triggers a chemical reaction that tells our brains to rise-and-shine, rather than snooze (shining a bright LCD light directly into your eyes with a cellphone, laptop or tablet just before bedtime sends the brain a 'wake-up' message. Experiments on the intensity have found that substantial phase shifts to our circadian rhythm occur when the light is at least 100 lux (typical home lighting is about 150 lux and most smartphones are in the range of 200-600 lux) showing that home lighting and phone use can certainly have an effect on the body clock.
The video was made by the American Chemical Society under its 'Reactions' series of short science videos.
is there a solution to the "blue light" effect and the insomnia promoting energy the emanates from the smartphone? There is an app available called 'Twilight' that dims the screen over time.
The scientific basis of this is that at night, using your phone’s GPS to synchronize with the local time of day, the app automatically dims the screen and at the same time applies a red filter to the display. The idea is that bright blue-tinted light from tablet and phone displays is more deleterious to sleep patterns than red light (as the video explains). Unrelated studies have shown that 30 minutes of exposure to blue light 1 hour before bedtime also showed significant melatonin expression. Whether the app works or not has not, to this journalist's knowledge, been scientifically examined.
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