To maximize your chances of getting a good, solid slumber, experts suggest unplugging from the stresses and distractions of your day — literally.
Research indicates that technology isn’t really the best sleep aid, and that powering down is your best bet if you want to fully enter the internal chill zone that is sleep. In fact, one recent study (via TheDoctorWillSeeYouNow.com) indicates that use of an iPad or similar-type wireless tablet that is characterized by a bright “self-luminous display” can negatively affect our ability to relax, and therefore, fall asleep.
While the study, by researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Lighting Research Center in New York, wasn’t large (it only consisted of 13 test subjects) it did come up with some interesting findings related to how our love for technology — which, for some, borders on obsession — affects other areas of our life. The study found that tablet use in and around bedtime for two hours lowers a person’s melatonin production by 22 percent (there was no effect after one hour of use, however).
Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the body to help regulate the sleep and waking cycle. A chemical that helps us relax, it is often triggered in response to darkness. The “self-luminous display” that characterizes the tablet’s screen is the reason why melatonin gets suppressed — the light acts as a kind of disruptor.
But tablets aren’t the only devices that feature this kind of screen. Flat screen TVs and mobile phones do too. Experts suggest dimming the display on the tablet and similar devices could help. But one sure way to avoid the disruption is to avoid all electronic stimulation for at least an hour before bed and to sleep in a dark environment.
Do you watch TV or read on a tablet before bed?