Artificial illumination in smartphones and laptops could result in sleeping disorders

sleep Pixabay

A new study published in journal Cell Reports has suggested that staring on artificially illuminated screens like smartphones and laptops for a long time could result in sleeping disorders. The study carried out by researchers at the Salk Institute found that artificially illuminated screens will negatively impact certain cells in the eye resulting in the disruption of the internal biological clock.

It should be noted that the internal biological clock is actually the daily cycle of physiological processes in the human body known as the circadian rhythm.

"We are continuously exposed to artificial light, whether from screen time, spending the day indoors or staying awake late at night. This lifestyle causes disruptions to our circadian rhythms and has deleterious consequences on health," said Satchin Panda, a professor at the Salk Institute and the lead author of the study in a recent statement.

The innermost layer of retina contains a tiny subpopulation of light-sensitive cells that operate like pixels in a digital camera. As light gets exposed on these cells, a protein named melanopsin regenerates with them. Melanopsin plays a crucial role in maintaining the circadian rhythm, and the destabilization of this protein will shatter the normal cycle of human sleeping pattern.

"Compared to other light-sensing cells in the eye, melanopsin cells respond as long as the light lasts, or even a few seconds longer. That's critical because our circadian clocks are designed to respond only to prolonged illumination," said Ludovic Mure, co-author of the study.

Researchers believe that the new finding will help to create advancements in the treatment for sleeping disorders like insomnia, migraines and circadian rhythm disorders.

A few days back, another study conducted by researchers at the University of Bristol in England had revealed that women who wake up early are less likely to develop breast cancer. The study also noted that women who slept more than seven hours have a 20 percent increased risk per the additional hour they sleep.

This article was first published on December 1, 2018