Your smartphone may be hurting your sleep

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You love your smartphone, but it may be ruining your ZZZ’s. Use of these devices, especially near bedtime, is associated with worse quality of sleep, according to a new study.

“When we looked at smartphone use around the time when participants reported they went to bed, more smartphone use around that time in particular was associated with a longer time to fall asleep and worse sleep quality during the night,” said Dr. Gregory Marcus, author of the study and an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. His research was published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One.

Tech addiction

The word “crackberry” became popular roughly a decade ago to describe the addictive quality of BlackBerry devices — arguably the first really successful smartphones. Today, most everyone is a smartphone junkie, standing with head bowed while waiting for a train or in line at the post office.

Knowing that smartphone use has increased in tandem with sleep deprivation rates, Marcus and his colleagues decided to investigate whether the two might be related. To answer this question, he used existing information collected by an Internet-based study he started in March 2013.

“Health eHeart,” which was funded by the National Institutes of Health and endorsed by the American Heart Association, is designed to study cardiovascular health. Anyone 18 years of age or older can enroll in Health eHeart, co-founded by Drs. Mark Pletcher and Jeffrey Olgin, professors at UCSF.

After signing a consent form, enrolled participants self-report their health data via a series of online questionnaires. The information is gathered, analyzed and used to research and develop strategies to prevent and treat all aspects of heart disease.

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