Okay! I said it. Mounting evidence points towards the disruptive effects that backlit screens such as those found on iPads, tablets, and phones, can have on our sleep. Ironically, I first read about this small (but mighty) research study from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute deep in the night when I was “just checking my email.” More and more of us (and our children) have access to these electronics at night, and it’s important to know what the impact can be.
According to the findings, activities such as reading, playing games, or watching movies on your backlit device surpresses melatonin levels by up to 22%! Melatonin is a hormone that carries information throughout the body during sleep. Lowered amounts of melatonin can disrupt our circadian rhythms and lead to poor sleep, and chronic disruption is implicated in more serious illnesses such as diabetes, obesity, and even breast cancer.
I think this is very important information for people who are recovering from injury and also for athletes and others involved in a training program. Our sleep, especially in the earlier hours of the evening are vitally important for our body’s natural production of growth hormone, which is vitally important for repair & recovery processes.
Until manufacturers create screens that take these findings into account, some of the recommendations that have been suggested are to limit your time with these devices in the evenings, turn down the brightness of the screens as much as possible, use alternative devices such as a kindle, or just read an old-fashioned book!