There’s growing concern among experts that the proliferation of glowing gadgets like computers may fool your brain into thinking that it’s still daytime after the sun has gone down. Exposure during the night can disturb sleep patterns and exacerbate insomnia.
Such concerns are not new — Thomas Edison may have created these problems when he invented the light bulb. But the problem has grown worse thanks to the popularity of Apple’s new slate computer, the iPad.
Many consumers use an iPad to read at night, and unlike paper books or e-book readers like the Amazon Kindle, which does not emit its own light, the iPad’s screen shines light directly into your eyes from a relatively close distance.
According to CNN:
“That makes the iPad and laptops more likely to disrupt sleep patterns than, say, a television sitting across the bedroom or a lamp that illuminates a paper book, both of which shoot far less light straight into the eye, researchers said.”
Dr. Mercola’s Comments:
Everything in nature has a rhythm, and that includes your body. The ebb and flow of the ocean’s tide, the rising and setting of the sun, and the transition from one season to another all happen with comforting regularity. Your body, too, strives to keep its 24-hour cycle, or circadian rhythm, steady and even.
This is why most of us naturally feel like waking when the sun comes up, and sleeping when it’s dark.
Researchers have also shown how your circadian rhythm is involved in everything from sleep, to weight gain, mood disorders, and a variety of diseases.
Unfortunately, modern life throws multiple wrenches into the works, as it were, mainly by artificially extending ‘daytime.’
Glowing Gadgets Fool Your Brain and Disrupts Your Circadian Rhythm
The advent of the light bulb may have been bad enough, but today there are any number of glowing gadgets tricking your brain into thinking it’s still day time, well past sundown.
This extended exposure to artificial light can disrupt your sleep cycle and make minor insomnia worse.
Why is that so?
Because when light receptors in your eyes are triggered, they signal your brain to ‘stay awake.’ To do that, your brain stops secreting melatonin, which is both a hormone and a potent antioxidant against cancer.
Normally, your brain starts secreting melatonin around 9 or 10 pm, which makes you sleepy. These regularly occurring secretions thus help regulate your sleep cycle. However, if you regularly trick your brain into altering this cycle, sleep disturbances are not far behind. It can even create a state of permanent “jet lag.”
The trouble with many of the electronic gadgets available today is the type of light they emit.
Computer screens and most light bulbs emit blue light, to which your eyes are particularly sensitive simply because it’s the type of light most common outdoors during daytime hours. As a result, they can disrupt your melatonin production.
The CNN article above details one man’s personal experiment to test the veracity of the claim that night time light exposure will disrupt your sleep.
“J.D. Moyer decided recently to conduct a little experiment with artificial light and his sleep cycle. The sleep-deprived Oakland, California, resident had read that strong light — whether it’s beaming down from the sun or up from the screens of personal electronics — can reset a person’s internal sleep clock.
So, for one month, whenever the sun set, he turned off all the gadgets and lights in his house — from the bulb hidden in his refrigerator to his laptop computer.
Instead of falling asleep at midnight, Moyer’s head was hitting the pillow as early as 9 p.m. He felt so well-rested during the test, he said, that friends remarked on his unexpected morning perkiness.
“I had the experience, a number of times, just feeling kind of unreasonably happy for no reason. And it was the sleep,” he said. “Sure, you can get by with six or seven hours, but sleeping eight or nine hours — it’s a different state of mind.”
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