According to researchers people who work late night on computers or play video games may have difficulty sleeping. A new study shows that the bright light of the computer screen may alter the body’s biological clock. The Biological clock is an internal mechanism in our body, which helps to control certain biological rhythms such as metabolism, sleep cycles etc. This alteration in the biological clock suppresses the natural production of melatonin (a hormone), which plays an essential role in controlling a person’s normal sleeping and waking hours.
The study was conducted on 7 healthy male computer users (average age 25 years). For about a week before starting the study the participants were asked to sleep between midnight to 1 a.m. and wake up between 8-9 a.m. Thereafter, the participants were asked on alternate days to perform some exciting work (such as playing a video game) or a boring work (such as simple math) on computer with either a bright or dark display monitor between 11 p.m. – 2 a.m. before going to bed.
During the study researchers observed the effect of computer use at night on the production of melatonin. Additionally the effect on other factors such as body temperature, heart rate that are known to fall during sleep (and supposed to affect the biological clock) were also observed.
Researchers found that melatonin level was significantly affected not only by the bright light but also by the nature of the task performed. Exciting tasks performed using a bright display screen suppressed melatonin production as compared to working on a dark display screen. Although the body temperature dropped at night under all conditions, working on a bright display screen seemed to raise the body temperature of a person.