Can't sleep? Turn off your iPad!

You’re an animal. You’re a living creature not too dissimilar from a chimpanzee—well, I guess chimps don’t wear sneakers—, and yet you constantly fight your natural instincts. Like, you’re meant to be awake, alert and on the ready, during the daytime. The moment the sun begins to set you should be winding down your day. If the sun is down, you should be down, sleeping a deep sleep and giving your body’s chemistry a chance to gear up for a new day of hunting and gathering. But no! You lie in bed late at night, staring into your brand new iPad, destroying your circadian rhythm in the process. Look out, there’s a lion behind you!

It’s not a new story, but there’s a very real danger of today’s technology destroying your ability to sleep. While it’s probably unrealistic to expect people these days to wake up at sunrise and go to bed at sunset, your reading on your iPhone or iPad or laptop while in bed really isn’t a good idea. The deal is that your brain reacts to the amount of light that enters your eyes. When there’s low light, or no light, your brain goes, “Oh, it must be nighttime, time to shut down.” So if it’s midnight and your body is physically tired, holding an iPad (or whatever) six inches from your face will totally screw everything up. Your brain sorta freaks out: “Well, it’s late, I’ve been conscious for 15 hours, and yet there’s still an incredible amount of light coming through the eyes. Guess I need to stay awake.”

That’s not healthy.

You have alternatives! If you find yourself having difficulty falling asleep at night, try the following:

• Leave your gadgets on your dresser. You don’t need to be on Twitter while in bed (no one reads your tweets anyway).

• If you need to be “doing something” in bed, break out a book—they still make regular books, you know!—and read a few pages. The less light your lamp outputs, the better. (Electronic readers like the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble nook are fine, too, since they emit zero light.)

• Count sheep!

I don’t know if that last suggestion is legitimate or not. But really, when it’s time to go to sleep, just go to sleep already. You’re only hurting yourself when you do otherwise, bub.