We know now that using your smartphone or tablet before bed can negative effects on our ability to fall asleep.
And now scientists are suggesting that sleep loss isn’t the only potential concern: our iPads may be making us depressed too.
A new study suggests that exposure to lights from tablets, as well as televisions, may trigger depression and affect learning. Testing on mice, scientists discovered that the mammals showed signs of depression and were less interested in engaging in fun activities such as exploring new objects.
According to the research, which will be published in medical journal Nature, the mice possessed higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormones. Biology professor Sam Hattar believes such behaviour patterns could apply to humans using tablets at night.
“Basically, what we found is that chronic exposure to bright light – even the kind of light you experience in your own living room at home or in the workplace at night if you are a shift worker – elevates levels of a certain stress hormone in the body, which results in depression and lowers cognitive function,” he said.
“When people routinely burn the midnight oil, they risk suffering depression and learning issues, and not only because of lack of sleep,” the study affirms. “The culprit could also be exposure to bright light at night from computers and iPads.”
The simplest solution – for both sleep and depression – is to operate your tablet at the lowest possible brightness setting (that you can still view the screen’s content at, of course). For example, if you normally use your iPad at half to full brightness with a night lamp on, turn the lamp off: in complete darkness, most owners can comfortably use their tablets at 0% to 15% brightness, which will virtually eradicate the negative effects.