We’ve all been guilty of sitting in front of the computer or of swiping a tablet screen way past midnight, but we may have to start changing our habits soon, as a new study featured on The Guardian reports this may be an unhealthy way to cap off the night.

According to Charles Czeisler, director of sleep at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, brightly lit screens may cause disruptions in the body's natural rhythms, as artificial light activates specific neurons that keep one awake. It suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone released during nighttime that helps helps the brain shut down for rest.

When the production of melatonin is disrupted, the body remains active, leading to lack of sleep. Excessive sleep loss may trigger depression, cause weight gain, and even increase the risk of death.

Derk-Jan Djik, director of the Surrey Sleep Research Centre at Surrey University notes, "Light has an activating effect, but people don't treat light as they would caffeine. If you have problems falling asleep that might be associated with this, keep your exposure to light low in the evening."

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(Photo by Chance Reecher via Flickr Creative Commons)

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