According to a survey conducted by the NSF, 43% of Americans between the ages of 13 and 64 say they rarely get a good night's sleep, while 95% of those surveyed were using electronics in the hour before going to bed, including a "pervasive use of communications technology." The NSF (the National Sleep Foundation), an organization dedicated to Waking America to the Importance of Sleep, put out a press release that lays the blame on electronics with illuminated screens. From the press release:
"Artificial light exposure between dusk and the time we go to bed at night suppresses release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, enhances alertness and shifts circadian rhythms to a later hour—making it more difficult to fall asleep," says Charles Czeisler, PhD, MD, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. "This study reveals that light-emitting screens are in heavy use within the pivotal hour before sleep. Invasion of such alerting technologies into the bedroom may contribute to the high proportion of respondents who reported that they routinely get less sleep than they need."
From where I sit, this study should be heavily promoted by the manufacturers of e-readers sporting E Ink displays. While iPad owners have lorded it over e-reader users whose non-backlit screen requires use of an an old fashioned reading light (just like with a paper book), it looks as those those bright, LED iPad displays are contributing to sleep deprivation. While e-readers were not mentioned specifically in the study as being good or bad, the NSF singled out electronic devices with artificially illuminated displays as being the culprits, including: televisions, computers, laptops, video game systems, cell phones and music devices. E ink displays have no backlighting, do not flicker and mimic the appearance of ink on paper.
Chronically tired and gadget obsessed? Maybe you should take the extra money you spend each day on coffee trying to caffeinate yourself awake and use it to buy a Kindle or Nook for bed time reading. As an added bonus, an e-reader isn't going to wake you up with e-mail or text notifications after you do fall asleep (another sleep challenge noted by many of the survey respondents). Give yourself and the iPad a bit of a rest until morning.