Artificial light exposure late into the night for extended hours can reset the body’s internal clock, resulting in sleep disruption and possibly a host of other health issues, scientists from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California, USA are warning.

Today, people are increasingly absorbed in screen time — be it with smartphones, tablets or television, however, this kind of digital lifestyle can often disrupt sleep, according to Julie Mallon, a UAE-based certified sleep consultant parental educator with Nurture to Sleep and a key speaker at Sleep Expo Middle East.

‘Missing out on sleep leaves you feeling exhausted, irritable, and generally unable to function during the day and over time. It can put you at risk for health issues like obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes,’ Mallon says.

The study by the USA scientists published in the journal Cell Reports, reveals that melanopsin (a protein cell in the retina), plays a pivotal role in synchronising the body’s internal clock after 10 minutes of illumination and, under bright light, it suppresses the hormone melatonin that is responsible for regulating sleep. As per the researchers, melanopsin cells respond as long as the light lasts, which is critical as the circadian rhythm — the biological process behind the human body’s natural sleep and wake cycles — are designed to respond only to prolonged illumination.

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Mallon suggests to unwind before bedtime, have a transition period of about 15 to 30 minutes, to get quality and sound sleep.