A study recently published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) showed that reading a backlit device before bed can significantly degrade the quality of your sleep. (Warning: link opens PDF file)
The researchers found that using an iPad at night can reduce the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle by as much as 55%! Subjects in the study were also found to fall asleep 10 minutes later compared to those reading a book using a dim light. Once asleep, subjects using the iPad had less REM sleep – the restorative kind of sleep.
What’s worse is that the effects did not end that night. The subjects that used the iPads were found to be much sleepier the next morning, and it took them hours longer to feel alert compared to their book reading counterparts. Okay, okay, so maybe it seems a bit alarmist to worry about feeling a little groggy the next morning or that you got to bed a measly 10 minutes later. This is where the study gets pretty interesting.
Researchers found that when it was time for bed the next night, the iPad readers’ circadian clocks were delayed by more than 90 minutes! Their internal clocks were thrown off by an hour and a half just from reading iPad the night before. This is how a small habit can compound its negative effects over time.
My recommendations for a better night’s sleep:
- Get some bright light first thing in the morning, day light is best but indoor lighting is better than nothing
- Decrease your exposure to bright lights as the sun goes down
- Put away all electronic devices with screens at least 2 hours before bed time
- Read or do other relaxing activities by soft light before bed
- Create a bedtime ritual that will signal to your brain that it is time for sleep
What are your best tips for avoiding bright blue lights before bed time? Have you noticed an impact on your quality of sleep? Leave your thoughts below in the comments section.