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Can adjusting your mobile device's brightness help promote better sleep?

For Mother’s Day, my husband gifted me with an iPad mini. I can’t tell you how much I love my new little toy, but I have noticed that I am going to be bed much later - even after I’ve put away the device.

The light being emitted from smartphones and tablets has long been suspected of suppressing levels of the hormone melatonin, which helps regulate our bodies’ sleep and wake cycles. Now, researchers from the Mayo Clinic suggest you should adjust your device’s screen brightness to the lowest setting and keep it at a certain distance to avoid disrupting sleep. The results were presented this week during the SLEEP 2013 conference in Baltimore.

According to a Medical Daily article:

The researchers investigated how levels of light emitted from mobile devices at different distances from a user's face compared to the threshold of light that suppresses the secretion of melatonin, 30 lux.

In a dark room, they used a sensitive light meter to measure the light coming from two Apple tablets and a smartphone: an iPad 1, an iPad 3 with retinal display, and an iPhone 4. The emitted light was measured at 0 inches and 14 inches from a user's face.

The measurements showed that when the brightness was lowered to the minimal setting, the LED lights of all three devices were well below the 30 lux melatonin-suppressing threshold.

"We found that only at the highest setting was the light over a conservative threshold that might affect melatonin levels," said Dr. Krahn. "If it's at the mid setting or at a low setting it's bright enough to use."

This seems simple enough. Perhaps I'll give it a try before going to bed tonight.

Photo by ianmunroe

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