Backlit computers/iPads causing insomnia in some

in General Discussion edited January 2014

Some people have S.A.D. or Seasonal Affective Disorder where their sleep cycle and moods are severely affected by the lack of sunlight entering the eye and turning off the pituitary gland which produces sleep chemicals in our brains. The opposite is also true if a lack of darkness fails to activate the pituitary gland to get us to go to sleep, this is where using brightly lit devices before bedtime can keep us awake, fooling the body into believing it´s still daylight.

S.A.D. commonly occurs in northern climates where it can be overcast for much of the winter, causing winter blues, irregular sleep and depression.

Coffee is used by people to self medicate and wake themselves up in these areas, people also drink alcoholic beverages to try to combat depression caused by S.A.D., also to drink themselves to sleep so they can sleep soundly. Neither of these methods are recommended, especially in excess, as the side effects are detrimental to oneself and potentially to others.

Properly controlling the lighting levels in living areas is the solution, but difficult to achieve in work places, schools, autos and outside. Another solution is to move to a more sun bright region if possible.

This program link below will slightly and automatically adjust the color levels of the monitor matching the daylight level to help prevent the device from keeping one awake. Bright blue white for daytime and a range of blue less tints for the night.

It´s a bit ugly at first, watching the screen dim from a bright blue white to a bit orange white, but using it at 6 am (and still dark outside for me) I´ve noticed immediately the screen wasn´t keeping me awake and I actually feel like going back to bed for a few more hours sleep.

Mac or PC, no iPad version at this time.


  • Reply 1 of 1
    dr millmossdr millmoss Posts: 5,403member
    This is all rather unscientific. Since science seems to have so little to do with it, I can report unscientifically that reading on the iPad does not have any negative impact on my sleep. I find that reading before bedtime helps me sleep, and reading on the iPad has the benefit of allowing me to read without a bright bedside lamp, which I find more relaxing if only because my spousal unit isn't constantly asking me when I'm going to turn out the light. What this article really reveals is the randomness and contradictions of what is laughably called sleep science.
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