Power-Down for Better Sleep

by Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. on April 17, 2013

There’s an important event coming up the end of this month that focuses on something that affects broadcasters and voiceover professionals.  April 29 through May 5 has been designated, “Screen-Free Week.”

There’s one aspect of this that I want to address.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADid you know that the super-intense white light from computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones affects your sleep?

Now I don’t know any of us who can say we regularly get enough sound sleep.  And I bet you, like me, often spend the last minutes before going to bed checking email or watching TV.  Sleep specialists have studied this activity and found that the super-intense light from electronic gadgets reduces the secretion of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin.  Without the proper amount of melatonin, our brains don’t know it’s time for sleep.

Lack of sleep is not a minor issue, either.  We all know it affects our energy level the next day, but it also increases our risk for heart disease, diabetes, and weight gain.

Sleep specialists suggest we turn off all our gadgets about an hour before bedtime.  It’s also a good idea to put your phone out of reach and turn it face down so the glowing light cannot be seen.  Let your friends know that you are incommunicado after a certain hour.  You’ll sleep better and wake up refreshed.

If you feel you simply must read from your iPad or Kindle before you go to sleep, limit your reading to something pleasurable.  Also, use the Accessibility setting on your iPad or Kindle that allows for white type on a black background.  The black background is much less harmful for your sleep.  And take note that because the white type on black does not give you the sickly blue face created by the super-intense white screen, it’s a great setting to use if you’re speaking from your iPad in public or for a live shot.

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