Thursday, October 27, 2011

Is Your iPad Giving You Insomnia?

Studies reveal that 61% of e-reader owners think bedtime is a perfect time to read an e-book, and among those surveyed, 37% spent read e-books the most while lying in bed. But when it’s time to hit the sheets, current research suggests the bright light from your iPad may cause bouts ofinsomnia.

According to Alon Avidan, a neurologist and associate director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), illumination from iPads or laptops right before bedtime may be a cause for sleep disturbances, including flat-out insomnia. Research shows light inhibits the release of melatonin, a hormone released by our brain to regulate our sleep cycles and circadian rhythms. Normally, melatonin increases at dusk, when natural light levels begin to lower, as a part of our bodies’ naturally-occurring sleep rhythms.

But the iPad’s bright back-lit display can disturb these cycles and leave you restless before bed. So while curling up with your iPad at night to read Oprah’s next book club pick seems like a smart way to lull yourself to sleep, your brain thinks otherwise. The color screen and blue lighting set the iPad apart from other devices and actually spark alertness. “When you look at an LCD screen that has more rich colors in the blue range, that could conceivably have an additive effect” on insomnia, Avidan says. The Kindle, on the other hand, doesn’t use a significant light source and therefore doesn’t impact the readers as much. [Full disclosure: No one's paying Blisstree to promote one e-reader over the other. Honest.]

And not only are iPad users reading before bed, they’re usually surfing the web, writing emails and engaging in it’s multiple apps and capabilities. That final round of Angry Birds right before lights out gives extra stimulation to the mind, preventing relaxation. I’m not saying sell your iPad on ebay and go back to paper; but just be aware of your e reader usage around sleep times. To avoid sleep problems, try to stop using devices with artificial light within 2 hours of going to bed for a good nights rest and hopefully sweet dreams.

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