iPad and Sleep: Strange Bedfellows

Sleep and the iPad don't really go together, according to some experts


Apple's new iPad is chock full of activities guaranteed to keep your brain stimulated. You can watch movies, listen to music, read e-mail and books, etcetera, but can all that activity right before bedtime keep you awake?

Some sleep experts say using the iPad before bed can affect sleeping habits, unlike most other e-readers, the L.A. Times reported.

The difference? Devices like the Kindle, the Nook and popular e-readers from Sony use a technology called e-paper. It simulates the look of an actual printed page and does not emit light. The iPad, however, contains a touch-screen liquid-crystal display that, like computer screens and television sets, emits light, according to the L.A. Times.

The Director of the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center, Frisca Yan-Go, says having that much light right in front of the eyes prevents the brain producing the melatonin one needs to get a good night’s sleep, as reported by the LA Times.

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 cell phones and the iPad, tell the brain to stay alert, Friscan Yan-Go, director of the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center told the L.A. Times. That's because users hold those devices so close to their face and stare directly into the light.

But some users of light-emitting devices say that reading alone might not be enough to keep you awake, playing a stimulating game before bedtime can also cause insomnia.

Yan-Go pointed out to the L.A. Times the advantages of books over e-readers. Paper books are often lighter; they can be dropped if you doze off holding them, but critics note that a heavy hard backed book is just as hard to hold as an iPad, but reading on a device like an iPod or Blackberry are lighter still.

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