Only a complete technophobe would deny that iPhones can be useful for a whole range of activities and leisure pursuits, but it might alarm you to know that smartphones in general are also quite effective at making people fat — quite literally overnight.
Here’s some food for thought: The next time you leave your iPhone, iPad, or one of the less sophisticated gadgets from that “other” company on charge before bedtime, you could be inadvertently hitching a ride on the obesity train.
How so? Well, researchers have warned that a glowing smartphone or tablet quietly charging in your bedroom overnight is doing more than hindering your beauty sleep — it’s messing with the hormones that regulate the conversion of food and drink into energy.
The blue light emitted by gadgets interferes with the body’s production of melatonin, which promotes regular sleep and assists the body’s metabolism.
When the night is calm as a mill pond and as dark as the abyss, our bodies produce just the right level of melatonin to efficiently burn food, but when the short-wavelength blue light emitted by some devices burns through the night, then in terms of our metabolism and sleep patterns, we’re burning the candle at both ends, and that never ends well.
The Daily Mail reports that Dr. Simon Kyle, a sleep researcher at the university, stated that although the glare emitted by the devices is not bright enough to light up a room, it still disrupts our bodies. In addition to causing obesity, the burning of the blue midnight lamp can also lead to diabetes.
“A lot of people are interested in this at the moment given that as a 24-hour society, sleep deprivation is increasing and we are exposing ourselves to artificial light at night.
“We are interested in how an alteration in the sleep-wake pattern may be involved in the onset of diabetes and obesity and if, when you improve the timing of sleep you can also have a positive effect on conditions like diabetes and obesity.
“There is a lot of research showing we are meant to be asleep at night when darkness falls and melatonin rises and when the sun rises the melatonin is blocked by the sun. This light-dark cycle is good for our bodies to predict changes in the environment.
“So if you start sleeping shorter, or receive light at the wrong time late into night, it disrupts melatonin secretion and that could contribute to alterations in metabolism. Blue light is the most damaging because it keeps the mind buzzing.”
Dr. Kyle has advised that we should all reduce our exposure to artificial light by enjoying a gadget-free zone a couple of hours before we get our heads down.
“There is strong basic science and data to show the association between sleep interference and disease. If you can have complete darkness at night time you might be able to recreate time’s pre-industrial period and have a stab at improving the obesity epidemic.”