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Sleep In America Poll: Technology Is Ruining Our Sleep

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Your laptop may rob you of much-needed rest, according to a new study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation. The non-profit's 2011 Sleep in America poll suggests a correlation between the use of electronics before bedtime and widespread sleeping problems.

The poll surveyed a random sample of 1,508 Americans between the ages of 13 and 64. A whopping 63 percent of participants claimed that their sleep needs were not met during the week. This dissatisfaction may be connected to the fact that virtually everyone polled -- 95 percent -- reported that they surfed the net, texted or watched TV at least a few nights a week in the hour before trying to sleep.

"Technology has invaded the bedroom," announced study task force member Charles Czeisler, Ph.D., M.D., in an interview with Reuters. "Invasion of such alerting technologies into the bedroom may contribute to the high proportion of respondents who reported they routinely get less sleep than they need." Czeisler further explained this phenomenon in the National Sleep Foundation's press release:

Artificial light exposure between dusk and the time we go to bed at night suppresses release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, enhances alertness and shifts circadian rhythms to a later hour, making it more difficult to fall asleep ... This study reveals that light-emitting screens are in heavy use within the pivotal hour before sleep. Invasion of such alerting technologies into the bedroom may contribute to the high proportion of respondents who reported that they routinely get less sleep than they need.

Participants cited drinking caffeine and napping as methods to combat insufficient sleep, but many acknowledged that sleepiness still negatively affects their work responsibilities, family life, mood and social life.

"While these technologies are commonplace," said David Cloud, C.E.O. of the National Sleep Foundation, "it is clear that we have a lot more to learn about the appropriate use and design of this technology to complement good sleep habits."

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