- Sleep -

Bedtime Readers, Beware

How reading on your iPad before bed might prevent you from falling asleep.

glasses in book

The new iPad may be a great way to store and retrieve the world’s great books, but sleep experts warn against settling in with this virtual page-turner before bed. That’s because the light emitted by the iPad (and by cell phones, TVs and other back-lit devices) inhibits the body’s ability to secrete melatonin, a brain chemical that signals the need for sleep.

For this reason, many neurology and sleep experts, including Frisca Yan-Go, MD, director of the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center in Santa Monica, suggest that we avoid interacting with most types of electronic gadgets directly before bedtime.

So does that mean that old-fashioned printed books and magazines are your only bedtime-reading option? Not necessarily, but if you have any insomniac tendencies, they may be your best bet. While Amazon’s Kindle and other non-backlit e-reader devices do not appear to have the same disrupting effect on melatonin, some experts suggest that they may still inhibit sleep for other reasons, including electromagnetic frequencies, mental associations with computer-screens and workplace stress, or temptations to multitask using the device’s other available features, such as texting, note typing — or browsing the virtual bookstore for new reading material.


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