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Aug 22, 2012 12:04 PM by Ian Cross

Sleep expert says blue light from screens may keep us up at night

TUCSON - Addicted to your iPad? Tethered to your tablet? You're not alone! Millions of us are, and doctors say that could be the reason why so many of us are having problems falling asleep at night.

Sure, these gadgets have made us masters at multi-tasking: surfing the web, checking and sending emails at all hours, and texting late into the night - but the price we pay in lost productivity the following day may not be worth it.

Mark Tronziger knows the bedroom is the last place he should be doing work, especially late at night. But as a senior loan officer, a missed email could be a missed client, so Tronziger is always plugged in.

"On a good day I may go to bed around midnight. Most days around 1:00, 1:30 in the morning," Tronziger said.

Why so late? Dr. Sairam Parthasarathy with University of Arizona Medical Center says: blame it on the blue light!

"That bright light that helps us see our laptops, iPhones and e-readers messes with our body clocks, especially when we're staring at them for hours, right before bed," Dr. Parthasarathy said. "What it means to us is that we're going to have our sleep/wake cycle shifted from when the rest of society is asleep and when our morning work starts."

Dr. Parthasarathy runs the Center for Sleep Disorders at UAMC. By monitoring people as they sleep, and learning their habits before they go to bed, the doctor is often able to figure out why they're not sleeping soundly.

"We can actually make a diagnosis next day of what is happening with this particular individual," Dr. Parthasarathy said.

In Mark Tronziger's case, he's already self-diagnosed his problem, but says there just isn't enough time in the day.

"It's just something you get used to," he said. "It becomes kind of the norm."

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