Daily Challenge – Sleep=Happiness

With the recent time change, people tend to feel a bit jet lag. This is a good time to start some new habits at bed time. One very effective way of going and staying asleep is to turn off all electronic devices. That means no TV, no checking facebook one last time, and no quick game of candy crush. Turn it off!

The Science:

Electronics, Light and the Science of Sleep

There is robust scientific data documenting the role of light in promoting wakefulness.  Photoreceptors in the retina sense light and dark, signaling our brain about the status of the outside world and aligning our circadian rhythms (centered in a small region of the hypothalamus called the suprachiasmatic nucleus) to the external day-night cycle.  This signaling of light and dark helps us to be alert in the morning and be able to fall asleep at the appropriate time at night.  The power of light as an alerting agent is easily conceptualized when we think of the sun, but may be more difficult to appreciate when considering the light emitted from a tablet or smartphone.

Nonetheless, careful studies have shown that even our small electronic devices emit sufficient light to miscue the brain and promote wakefulness [1]. As adults we are subject to these influences and our children are particularly susceptible.


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