Since the introduction of the tablet computer, millions of devices have been flying off high-street shelves and into the hands of tech-savvy consumers. However scientists discovered some questionable health risks associated with the iPad and other mobile media, and they don’t want you to lose any sleep over it.
According to a recent study, the glow from iPads and other tablet devices that many of us sleep next to could be affecting the melatonin levels in our bodies. This naturally occurring hormone is produced by the pineal gland which is located in the centre of the brain. Part of the system that regulates the sleep-wake cycle, melatonin causes drowsiness, and tells the body to lower its temperature in order to save energy when sleeping.
In humans, the circadian ‘clock’ can be found in the suprahiasmatic nucleus, and this is what controls our sleep/waking cycle. This cycle is best maintained in total darkness, and according to researchers, iPad and other tablet device users suffer a melatonin decrease of 22% after using their device for two hours every night.
Tablet device users usually hold their pads close to their face when watching films or reading books, resulting in more light exposure than if they were watching television for example. Your iPad or tablet device may be convenient for working on the go, but there have been significant improvements in science that show these types of devices are detrimental to your sleeping pattern.
It has been noted that different devices, such as iPhones, won’t lower melatonin levels as much as devices with bigger screens, but in order to get a good night’s sleep, it’s best to limit the exposure to tablet devices before bedtime. Here are a few more tips to get a better night’s sleep without your iPad!
Try Buying a Filter
Filters for mobile tablet devices are widely available and inexpensive. They can help reduce the light distribution around the room, and also limit the melatonin loss in the human body. It’s best to look for a filter that cuts off wavelengths below 520 nanometers (nm). The colour on your screen may be compromised, but at least your circadian rhythm will be better off!
Dim the Lights
The study revealed that participants were using tablet devices at full brightness, however iPads are well equipped to perform at much lower levels of screen brightness. Access the screen brightness through ‘settings’ and see if that makes any difference to your sleeping patterns!
Hold the Tablet Away From Your Face
Whether they’re lying on their double divan beds or sitting on the sofa, many people watch movies on their tablet devices. Holding the device so closely to your face is one of the main reasons why melatonin levels decrease, so make sure that you watch from a safe distance as well as turning down the lights on your tablet device.
Heavy use of tablet devices in the evening will cause your body to think it’s daytime when really it’s sleeping time. Electronic curfews will minimise disruption to your circadian rhythm allowing you to sleep for longer periods of time, as well as waking up refreshed.
Post written and contributed on behalf of Archers Sleep Centre.