Outside it’s midnight. Inside it’s teatime. Is this what’s wrong with me?

Maybe the LED screens we bury our faces in are playing havoc with our ability to synchronise with the 24-hour day

Share

I’m tired. I barely know anyone who isn’t. Complaining about exhaustion seems to have become the norm; if I hear someone trilling about how refreshed they’re feeling, I look at them with the suspicious expression I normally reserve for friends who unexpectedly confess to having let Jesus into their life over the weekend.

As a nation, we’re utterly knackered, and we enjoy listing all the potential reasons that we’re feeling so rough, from colossal workload to prolonged building work next door. But here’s a theory: maybe the LED screens we bury our faces in are playing havoc with our ability to synchronise with the 24-hour day. That’s the view of Charles Czeisler, professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Czeisler has long believed that artificial light is profoundly affecting the way we live; compared to 40 years ago, 10 times more of us are getting fewer than six hours shut-eye, and on average we’re sleeping about two fewer hours than we ought. Sling caffeine into the mix – which we love to do, and which food and beverage manufacturers are increasingly keen on doing – and it’s a wonder we’re not all stumbling about at 3am, wondering where the hell we left our circadian rhythms.

Normally, the name of Margaret Thatcher is invoked at this point – she managed on four hours a night and still stuck it to the unions, etc – but the fact is that lack of sleep can lead to weight gain, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, burnout and depression.

Czeisler reckons that the colour temperature of energy-saving bulbs and LEDs is preposterously unsuitable for use after dusk. Their blueish tinge has more in common with midday light than the softer, yellower light that you get later in the day, and so our brains and bodies become confused.

Add to that the gadget addiction that has us prodding screens at midnight – so called, I hear, because it’s the middle of the night – and our body clock suddenly gets shifted four hours westward, putting me somewhere off the coast of Newfoundland. I don’t want to be there. I want to be in bed.

The solution, according to Czeisler? Take the TV out of the bedroom.

Maybe use halogen bulbs. Download a handy app for Windows and Mac called f.lux, which slowly fades your screen to a more dusky colour temperature as the sun sets. Avoid drinking bedtime cocoa in a room that has lighting reminiscent of your local sub-post office. And if all else fails, do what a former boss of mine did when the brightness control broke on the expensive LED screen in his office: wear sunglasses indoors. You might look stupid, but you’ll get a cracking night’s sleep.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Riyadh is setting itself up as region’s policeman

Lina Khatib
Ed Miliband and David Cameron  

Cameron and Miliband should have faith in their bolder policies

Ian Birrell
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor