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Blog author, Solai Buchanan is an experienced Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with an MS from Columbia Teachers College. She specializes in treating heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, polycystic ovarian syndrome,and other chronic diseases. She is a provider at a full-service cardiology practice accepting most insurance and staffed with a primary care MD, pediatrician, and cardiologist. Call: 718.894.7907. NYCC is lead by Interventional Cardiologist Sanjeev Palta, MD, FSCAI, FACC. He trained at Cornell-Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and the State University Hospital of Brooklyn. He currently is an Attending Cardiologist at New York Methodist Hospital and Maimonides Medical Center. He is also an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center. Having performed over 2000 invasive cardiac procedures Dr. Palta’s patients know they are in trusted hands.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


The evidence on the importance of sleep to our long-term health and well-being has never been stronger.  Inadequate sleep, shift work schedules, and sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia have all been found to be significant risk factors for chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, depression, and even dementia.  The Center for Disease Control estimates nearly one-third of Americans are habitually sleep-deprived and this percentage is expected to continue to increase.  Not only is the quantity of our sleep inadequate but the quality of our sleep is also trending down.  One of the growing threats to the quality of our sleep is likely lurking right beside your pillow as you sleep – your smartphone.  A growing body of research indicates using electronics such as smartphones, tablets, e-readers and other back-lit devices, especially before bed, makes it more difficult to fall asleep and decreases the quality of the sleep we do get. 

The results from a recent month-long study are illustrative of the negative impact these devices are exerting on our sleep.  In this study, 650 adults used an app that tracked their smartphone use as well as the duration and quality of their sleep.  Researchers found the more individuals used their phones, especially in the hours before bed, the less they slept and the poorer quality of their sleep.   

Why are these devices bad for our sleep?  Not only do they occupy us when we should be sleeping but they emit short wave-length blue light that suppresses our production of melatonin, the hormone that helps us fall asleep. 

What to do:  To prime your circadian rhythm and counter the effects of screens at night, it helps to expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day.  Then, at night, if you have problems falling or staying asleep, try to avoid looking at bright screens, particularly those held close to your eyes, beginning 2-3 hours before bed.  It is especially crucial to avoid screens during the hour leading up to sleep.  Red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin.  If you must use devices close to bedtime, utilizing special glasses that filter out the blue/green wavelength or employing apps (such as “Twilight”) or built-in phone settings (such as iPhones’ “night shift” setting) that shift the display from blues to warmer tones at night may help to encourage your body’s natural sleep/wake cycle. 

Information adapted from articles available at:

Christensen MA, Bettencourt L, Kaye L et al.  Direct measurements of smartphone screen-time: relationships with demographics and sleep.  PLOS ONE, 2016;11(11): e0165331. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0165331

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