Business Insider Science Editor Jennifer Walsh tapped the sleep expertise of SMU Assistant Professor of Chemistry Brian D. Zoltowski to explain how artificial light from our smartphones and other digital devices causes sleep deprivation. Her article, “Your Smartphone Is Destroying Your Sleep,” published May 19.
Zoltowski’s lab at SMU studies one of the many proteins involved in an organism’s circadian clocks. Called a photoreceptor, the protein responds to light to predict time of day and season by measuring day length.
The circadian clock is an internal biological mechanism that responds to light, darkness and temperature in a natural 24-hour biological cycle. The clock synchronizes body systems with the environment to regulate everything from sleep patterns and hunger in humans to growth patterns and flowering in plants.
“Our research focuses on understanding the chemical basis for how organisms perceive their surroundings and use light as an environmental cue to regulate growth and development,” Zoltowski says.
Zoltowski and the American Chemical Society created a video explaining the light-sleep deprivation relationship.