If sleep researchers had their way, we'd all be reading soothing books by candlelight while drinking chamomile "sleepy time" tea in our cozy bedrooms under comfy sheets before drifting to sleep for a recommended nine hours and fifteen minutes. Unfortunately, Americans have a habit of mindlessly vegetating in front of computer or TV screens before turning in for their six or seven hours of fitful rest. And those LCD screens? They're the latest culprits to be blamed for our chronic sleep-deprivation, so says science.
New research supported by the National Sleep Foundation finds that the artificial light emanating from computer screens, TV's etc. suppresses the release of the hormone melatonin and ends up fostering even more alertness in Americans. "This study reveals that light-emitting screens are in heavy use within the pivotal hour before sleep," reveal the researchers, which has the unintended risk of keeping us even more awake than we'd like to be.
The study notes that everyone watches too much television before going to sleep, 43 percent of Americans never sleep well on weeknights and 60 percent experience sleep problems like snoring or waking up intermittently every night. As preventative tips, the NSF entreats you to "keep a 'worry book' next to your bed," "treat your bed as a sanctuary from the stresses of your day," and avoid those very tempting afternoon naps.
The National Sleep Foundation, which has been regularly issuing reports appearing to advocate for later school start times for teens (so they can sleep in), is funded by in part by pharmaceutical and mattress companies. Which makes their claim that "Simple indulgences [hint: like a new bed! or Ambien!] can also make a difference in how you feel about sleep" seem a little less genuine.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.