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Laptops and TV before bed will stop you sleeping

Dependence on televisions, cellphones and laptops may be costing us dearly in lack of sleep.

Our fondness for watching television every evening before going to sleep, playing video games late into the night or checking emails and text messages before turning off the lights could be interfering with our sleep habits.

And teenagers playing video games before bedtime are worst affected.

"Unfortunately, cell phones and computers, which make our lives more productive and enjoyable, may be abused to the point that they contribute to getting less sleep," said Russell Rosenberg, the vice chairman of America's National Sleep Foundation.

The comments came after a series of studies looked at the impact of technology on our lives.

It found that technology is increasingly invading the bedroom.

"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," said Charles Czeisler of Harvard Medical School.

Exposure to artificial light before going to bed can increase alertness and suppress the release of melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone.

People in the 46 to 64 year age group are the biggest 'offenders' of watching television every night before going to sleep.

More than half also said they used their computers at least a few nights every week.

One in three 13 to 18 years olds played video games just before bedtime.

Sleep experts recommend that teenagers get nine hours and 15 minutes of sleep a night.

But adolescents questioned in a large study were only averaging seven hours and 26 minutes on weeknights.





Negative

"I am the most concerned about how little sleep 13-18 years are getting," said Dr Czeisler.

"Kids today are getting an hour and a half to two hours less sleep a night than they did a century ago. That means that they are losing about 50 hours of sleep a month."

A propensity to stay in touch means that even people who have managed to fall asleep, are being woken up by their mobiles, texts and emails.

The lack of sleep is having a negative impact not just on people's work, but on their mood, family, driving habits, sex lives and health.

hnews@herald.ie