It’s bedtime, and part of the nightly ritual is reading a family favorite together before tucking in for the night. But the new routine might mean calling up an electronic book rather than pulling a traditional one down from a shelf.
But reader, beware. According to a recent story about sleep on CNN, the light from an e-reader might do exactly the opposite of what you want that nighttime story to do. Junior’s brain might be fooled into thinking it’s daytime, the researchers warn. So instead of slipping off to the land of nod, his brain might be sending him toward the land of naughty. As in our house:
Me: Look, Mr. Popper got a penguin!
Junior: I can touch my toes to my ears.
Me: Listen, Mr. Popper’s kids are going to meet the penguins!
Junior: . . . twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four. . .
Me: Stop jumping on the bed. Don’t you care about Mr. Popper and his penguins?
Junior: Who’s Mr. Popper?
As the CNN story reports, “. . . that light can be sufficiently stimulating to the brain to make it more awake and delay your ability to sleep.” That’s a quote from Phyllis Zee, a neuroscience professor at Northwestern University and director of the school's Center for Sleep & Circadian Biology.
And if there’s one thing that strikes terror in the heart of any parent at about 8:30 p.m., it’s a delay in someone’s ability to sleep.
The biggest culprit for the nighttime shenanigans appears to be the iPad, which features LED back lighting. Great resolution, the New York Times looks terrific, but you won’t be able to enjoy it tomorrow morning at breakfast because you’ll be too tired from trying to get Junior to finally fall asleep!
At bedtime, you’re better off using another e-reader like the Kindle, which shoots far less light into the eye. Or, that other thing that’s been on the market for a while.