You heard me mention color temperature before, and the effect of watching TV or reading on the iPad before bed (See Sleepy Yet? — How Light from Electronics Effects Sleep), but here’s why it’s important.
This WebMD article examines the hormone melatonin, which helps regulate sleep & wake cycles (the circadian clock). Melatonin production in the body is triggered by darkness and inhibited by light, and that explains why we have trouble with jet lag, shift work, and winter months with fewer daylight hours.
This Wikipedia article describes light therapy and melatonin supplements as treatment for sleep disorders like insomnia. It also describes the light color temperature, from the warm yellow of incandescent light bulbs, to blue light of the new fluorescent and LED bulbs, or the bluish tint of the iPad and TV screens.
One way to fool the body into producing melatonin earlier so you can go to sleep earlier is to select warm-color light bulbs and have them dimmed in the evening. Another way is to wear DARK AMBER or ORANGE sunglasses in the evening to block blue light (short light wavelengths). And of course, that’s why sleep experts advise against using a computer or watching TV shortly before bed.
Because my wife and I often watch TV immediately before bed, and she likes to look at videos of our granddaughter on her iPad then, I checked the iPad Settings and found a way to dim the backlighting intensity and set it to somewhat adjust automatically depending on the ambient light. Go to Settings / Brightness & Wallpaper.
I’d also like the iPad to change the color temperature at night but found nothing native in the iPad, so I searched for a reliable iPad app for that. I found iJetlag and TheSleepApp but was disappointed with both of them. One even used the wrong color of light to encourage melatonin production and encourage sleep.
Additional sources of sleep information include the two articles on this site by PhD sleep consultant Bruce Meleski (Sleep Balance – Your Path to Better Sleep and Brain Entrainment for Better Sleep and Health) and in Jeanie Wolfson’s article on Sleep: Timing of Melatonin, Light, Dark, & Use of Other Aids. Wolfson lists many suggestions for improving sleep, including these few:
- Keep bedroom dark or wear an eye mask.
- Keep room cool and feet warm.
- Find a mattress that works for you, trying harder, softer, coil, foam, gel, waterbed, or hammock.
- Block distracting sounds with white noise.
- Use lighting controls to simulate dawn before alarm sounds.
- Don’t watch TV, use a computer use, or do homework within an hour of going to bed.
- Avoid caffeine and snacks that can cause a blood-sugar drop during the night.
- Establish a strict sleep/wake schedule.
- Exercise regularly.