How Your Smartphone is Ruining Your Sleep: A Video Explanation

Analyzing the top news stories across the web
May 20 2014 2:52 PM

Your Smartphone is Ruining Your Sleep

103216498-user-tries-out-the-new-blackberry-torch-9800-smartphone
Turn it off!

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

This post originally appeared on Business Insider

Artificial light is one of the biggest causes of sleep deprivation in modern humans, but there's some special witch magic in smartphone and tablet light that really messes with our sleep cycle — essentially forcing us to stay awake by convincing our bodies that it's actually morning.

Advertisement

Smartphones do this because they let off bright blue light.

"One of the best biological cues we have to what time of day it is is light. And it turns out that blue light in particular is very effective at basically predicting when morning is," chemistry researcher Brian Zoltowski says in the video below, from the American Chemical Society.

In the evenings, there's more red light than blue light, which signals your body to prep for bed. The red light does this by interacting with the protein melanopsin in cells deep inside your eyes — ones that are specifically made to regulate circadian rhythms and don't play a role in how we see.

When the light hits this protein, it changes, and these cells send a signal to the "master clock" of the brain, which dictates when we wake and when we get sleepy. When it sends a "wake up" signal at night, our body clock gets screwed up.

The solution to a screwed up body clock? Force yourself to do things at the right time of the day — eating at mealtimes, getting to bed at a normal time, and getting up at a good time as well. And, of course, avoid that blue light at night.

Watch the whole video, from ACS Reactions on YouTube

Jennifer Welsh is the science editor at Business Insider.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.