We often joke that social media apps on our iPhones are our morning newspapers and bedtime stories. Each morning when we wake up, immediately after hitting the snooze button, we open up Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest to catch up on whatever was happening in the social media world while we were sleeping. Then, after checking periodically throughout the day, we find ourselves once again in bed, scrolling through status updates, tweets, filtered images, and pins to soak in every bit of media possible. While it seems harmless enough, the most recent study on cell phone use near bedtime has brought about a serious reality: Weight gain.
How many hours a day do you spend on social media sites? One? Three? Six? According to researchers at the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, people who spent two hours using a device backlit with LED display — such as an iPhone or iPad — had a corresponding dip in melatonin levels. Melatonin is the chemical that prepares your body for sleep, so if your melatonin levels are decreasing, you’re going to have a harder time falling asleep at night. Simply put, you’re losing sleep.
So what’s lack of sleep got to do with packing on a few extra pounds? There’s a significant link between sleep loss and weight gain. When you’re awake for longer periods of time, you’ve got more time to eat, and we all know late night snacking never means you’re reaching for veggies over a bag of chips. Some experts believe that late-night quality time with your cell phone or tablet may be the root cause of the last 10 pounds everyone wants to lose.
This research also holds true for texting, playing games, or using your web browser late at night. Whether you’re pinning and updating from bed, near bed, or on the couch for two hours before you go to sleep, you’re falling prey to the potential risks of losing sleep and gaining weight. Our advice? Limit the amount of time you spend on your cell phone before bed, and put down the device a few hours before you doze off.
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