Like to read before bed? The habit could be causing you to lose out on good quality sleep.
Well, if you’re doing that reading on a laptop, smartphone, or iPad that is.
Seems that today’s portable electronic devices may be causing a modern day sleep-crisis of sorts.
The bright lights from these modern devices can fool your brain into thinking it’s daytime.
Your iPad is upsetting your circadian rhythm
And some sleep researchers believe being exposed to them close to bedtime can upset your internal clock (also known as a circadian rhythm) leading to poor quality sleep and insomnia.
Unlike the light from a bedside lamp, which bounces off a book or magazine we are reading before entering our eyes, the light emitted from these devices shines directly into them at a close distance.
And since our bodies are unable to tell the difference between bright artificial light and sunshine, the light receptors in our eyes tell our brain it’s time to be awake.
When your brain gets the “awake” message it stops secreting the hormone melatonin that helps you relax and feel sleepy.
Poor sleep raises your risk for diseases such as diabetes
So we’re left tossing and turning. And we wake up sleep deprived in the morning and more susceptible to developing everything from diabetes to heart disease.
In fact, when we suffer from sleep deprivation what happens inside our bodies can look a lot like pre-diabetes, or the insulin resistance that shows up before someone is diagnosed with a full blown case of type 2 diabetes.
Your cells stop using processing glucose effectively and this drives your blood sugar levels up.
In one study out of the University of Chicago researchers found that just three nights of poor sleep could raise your risk for diabetes essentially as much as if you had packed on an extra 20 or so pounds.
And in another study published in the journal Diabetes Care poor sleepers were shown to have a staggering two to threefold risk of later onset type 2 diabetes compared to a group who didn’t have any sleep problems.
In other words, getting a decent night sleep isn’t just a good idea, it can be critical for staying healthy.
So what’s a modern reader to do?
Limit your laptop, smartphone, or iPad reading to 1 to 2 hours before going to sleep. Or switch to a non-backlit e-book reader like the Kindle or Nook for bedtime reading.
The simplest solution? Pick up a good old-fashioned book instead. You don’t need to charge its batteries and you can fall asleep reading and not have to worry about turning it off.