Gadgets, like cellphones, may be source of sleep problems


One study shows that not sleeping for more than 20 hours and then getting behind the wheel can make you as impaired as someone who's legally drunk.

Stephanie Lynn, 18, was a ballerina who loved being on stage, but she had to give up her dancing dreams a few years ago because she wasn't dreaming enough.

"I've always just had a lot of trouble sleeping," said Lynn.

Lynn has tried sleeping pills, melatonin and sleep studies. So far, nothing has worked.

"I look at the clock, it's 3:00. I look at the clock, it's 4:30," she said.

About one in four Americans have trouble sleeping from time to time. Close to 25 million are chronic insomniacs.

People who suffer from sleep deprivation face serious health problems, such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity.

"If you start gaining weight, then you're more prone to sleep apnea, and there's a whole bunch of other complications that comes with that," said Dr. Akinyemi Ajayi, a sleep specialist at Florida Hospital.

Ajayi said that staring at gadgets with bright screens for hours on end could be the source of our sleep problems.

"It can potentially impact the secretion of melatonin, which then affects your drive, your ability to go to sleep," he said.

A recent poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that 95-percent of people surveyed used some sort of gadget within an hour before bedtime.

"Try and shut off your computer at least an hour to an hour-and-a-half before bedtime," said Ajayi.

Ajayi said the same goes for video games, cell phones and televisions, because shutting them down can boost your melatonin.

Lynn said she's interested to find out if technology is causing her problems.

"Maybe I can try departing from my cellphone tonight and see how it goes," she said.

She hopes to find an answer, and turn her dream of getting back to ballet into a reality.

Ajayi said using your gadget to listen to soothing sounds or a relaxing playlist is OK. But he said listening to the radio to fall asleep is a bad idea, because, unlike a playlist, you don't know what's coming next. At any time, something can spark your interest and you could be wide awake in an instant.

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