Caught yourself yawning in the middle of a busy workday? Perhaps you've got a case of excessive gadget usage that deprives you of some Z's.
A new study reveals that the use of electronic devices, particularly our beloved smartphones, before and during bedtime is to blame for the decline in the quality of sleep we've been getting.
Dr. Gregory Marcus, author of "Direct Measurements of Smartphone Screen-Time: Relationships with Demographics and Sleep" and associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, explained to CNN:
"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."
Upon noticing parallels between smartphone use and sleep deprivation levels, Marcus and his team pursued the study, with the help of a 2013 paper he spearheaded.
A total of 653 participants from "Health eHeart" had an app installed on their phones which counted the hourly screen time (turned on) in a 30-day span.
Data showed that the subjects who spent longer periods than the average 38.4 total hours in front of their handsets could only afford poorer and shorter beauty rests.
Signs of inadequate sleep were more prominent with participants who scrolled down, swiped left and right moments before signing off. And while researchers observed that most of the screen time clocked in the when the sun is up, a handful of subjects turned out to be quite the nocturnal techies.
"We can't exclude the possibility that some people can't sleep for some completely unrelated reason, and because they can't sleep, they're using their smartphone, just to pass the time," Marcus added.
He wishes to further expand his study, believing that effects of gadget overuse to one's sleeping patterns vary in terms of . In the meantime, Marcus suggests at least half an hour break from staring at the screen before shutting the eyes to improve the quality of sleep.
The research brings to mind previous studies, like the "blue light effect" (emitted by devices such as smartphones), which is said to also hinder the production of melatonin that affect how deep one is in slumber.