iPad: Don’t Read it Before Bed

Everyone seems iPad crazy these days, but we uncovered an interesting string of articles that relate to a warning about the iPad when it comes to our favorite subject … sleep.

The iPad, if you haven’t heard, is the new tablet computer from Apple.  It’s sort of an oversized iPod Touch, and it can serve as a laptop computer replacement, as well as a game device, email device, a video player, and an e-book reader.

It started over the weekend, when the Los Angeles Times published a blog post warning that reading your iPad at bedtime might not be a great idea.  We here at SleepBetter are big fans of reading a calm story (either to yourself or to someone else) before bedtime.  We’ve also warned about the sleep problems that devices that emit artificial light can cause if you view them right before bed.  A sleep expert quoted in the LA Times blog post points out that the artificial light from an iPad can cause more problems than some other entertainment products:

But staring at the screen before bed could leave you lying awake. That’s because direct exposure to such abnormal light sources inhibits the body’s secretion of melatonin, say several sleep experts.

If you’ve watched any late-night TV, you’ve no doubt heard the term thrown around in commercials for sleeping pills. Melatonin signals are sent through the brain as a response to darkness, telling the body to prepare to shut down for the night.

Light-emitting devices, including cellphones and yep, the iPad, tell the brain to stay alert. Because users hold those devices so close to their face, staring directly into the light, the effect is amplified compared with, say, a TV across the room or a bedside lamp, said Frisca Yan-Go, director of the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center in Santa Monica.

If you’re a fan of e-books and like to read at night … there IS some good news.  The other popular e-reader devices, Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes and Noble’s Nook, don’t actually emit light.  They instead use a technology that’s much closer to reading paper.

Another idea — read an actual book.  They’re less likely to break if you if you fall asleep and drop them or roll over on top of them!