If youre part of the 1-in-4 North Americans whos hooked on a tablet-sized digital device such as an e-reader, and you bring it to bed, youre a lot more likely to have trouble falling asleep than seeing the Browns win two games in a row. Thats because your device might be chasing away your melatonin the so-called vampire hormone a sleep-inducing secretion that comes out only in the dark at night.
Melatonin, a product of the pea-size pineal gland located in the center of your brain, is essential for a good nights sleep and a healthy immune system. Unfortunately, two hours of exposure to a self-luminous electronic display (a back-lit screen) can reduce your bodys melatonin output by up to 22 percent. Thats a formula for midnight raids on the fridge, not to mention all the other health problems that chronic sleep deprivation can trigger: anxiety, depression, elevated inflammation and LDL cholesterol, and susceptibility to infection.
So heres what we suggest to help you get a good nights sleep.
Æ No electronic devices for two hours before bedtime.
Æ Make sure all nightlights are red: that wavelength doesnt shut off melatonin.
Æ Regulate bedroom noise and light. If needed, try a white-noise machine (a fan can do the trick) and use light-blocking shades or curtains for complete darkness.
If the computer was causing your sleepless nights, that should do the trick. And if you still cant sleep, avoid caffeine after lunchtime, dont exercise or eat close to bedtime. Z-Z-Z-Z.
The You Docs Mehmet Oz, host of The Dr. Oz Show and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic are authors of YOU: Losing Weight. To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com. A King Features syndicate.