Why Gadgets cause Junk Sleep

It's official: Viewing light-emitting TVs, smartphones, computers, and video-game players less than an hour before bed interferes with sleep. Why do more than 40 percent of Americans say they don’t get enough sleep? One likely culprit: our ever-glowing screens.

A new study by the National Sleep Foundation found that 95 percent of people polled had used some sort of electronic device less than an hour before bed the previous night. Light-emitting TVs, smartphones, computers, and video-game players “can suppress the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin” and rev us up, making it difficult to nod off at a restorative hour, study author Lauren Hale tells USA Today.

The consequences of the national sleep deficit are both broad and alarming. Out of more than 1,500 people surveyed, 37 percent admitted to having driven while tired in the past month—the cause of 100,000 crashes and 1,550 deaths per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Young people, the heaviest users of light-emitting gadgets, were the drowsiest, convincing Hale that the trend “could really affect the future of sleep” and “have serious consequences” for physical and mental health. Her advice: Don't rely on junk sleep! Power down before hitting the sack, and read or listen to music instead.