I’m my most creative and productive during the evening hours, so I am often on up late into the night on my iPad writing and getting other work done. I also like to lay in bed and watch a movie before I go to sleep. Lately though I’ve been feeling really tired during the day, even after 8 hours of sleep. I’m not a fun person to be around when I’m not well rested, and I noticed effects in productivity in addition to the physical effects. My personal trainer even commented that I wasn’t my usual self in the gym as of lately. This really bothered me.
So I did some research, and discovered something startling. It was my beloved iPad robbing me of my energy.
So why am I, the iPad Guru, talking to you about when not to use your iPad?
Because good health is the most important thing you can own, and without it we can’t enjoy the things we love.
The type of light emitted by electronic devices such as iPads, phones, computer screens, and laptops is known as blue light. Blue light is also the type of light that the sun radiates (in a much greater amount). when blue light enters our eyes, receptors in our eyes send an encoded message to our brain. This message tells the brain that it’s day time out and it’s time for us to be awake. When the brain receives the “daytime” signal from the eyes, it stops the production of melatonin (the hormone that causes relaxation and sleep).
Another example of how this cycle works is in the morning when the sun rises. We wake up because the sun shines into our eyes (even through the eyelids) and the eyes relay the message to the brain. Brain says “ok, no more melatonin” and within a few minutes we wake up.
Why does this matter?
Because when we look at screens in the hours before bed, we’re tricking our brain into daytime mode. This is fine during the day when we want to be awake. During the night, however, tricking our brain into thinking it’s light out can cause us to be alert, restless, and awake when we’re trying to sleep.
Even if you are able to fall asleep, without melatonin you won’t be getting the deep, restful kind of sleep that our bodies need and you’ll most likely wake up groggy and tired even if you get the recommended 8 hours of sleep or more.
Proper sleep is one of the most important factors to good health. The research is starting to show that lack of sleep can cause a whole host of problems, from weight gain to depression. As someone who loves technology, I think it’s important that we are responsible for our heath first and foremost.
The best way to counteract this issue is to dim lights in the evening and avoid using electronics about an hour before bed. Instead of surfing the web or watching tv do some stretching, read a book, or listen to music (but turn the screen off). You’ll notice an immediate difference in the quality of your sleep and feel more energy throughout the day.
If you can’t give up your iPad or TV an hour before bed (come one man, have some will power) then there are a couple options that aren’t 100% effective, but are better than nothing.
The first is to purchase a pair of blue light-blocking glasses and wear them at night before bed when you use your electronics. You can pick up a pair for around $10 on Amazon.
You can also download an app, called F.Lux on your iPad, iPhone, and /or laptop that acts a a filter and reduces the amount of blue light radiating from the screen.
Give some of these a try and you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel. Drop me a line here if you try it out and let me know how it goes.