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Reading on iPad may affect sleep

Reading bedtime stories on Apple’s iPad tablet computer may affect your night’s rest, sleep experts reckon.

Unlike Amazon’s Kindle and popular electronic book reader devices from Sony, which use a technology called e-paper to mimic the characteristics of a printed page, the iPad has a display that emits light.

The advantage of using a backlit display is increased contrast, and the ability to read in the dark. But according to new research, staring at a light-emitting device like this can inhibit the release of melatonin, the hormone that tells the body to shut down for the night.

The result is that users’ brains remain alert. And because the device is held up close, the effect of using an iPad is much more potent than other sources of light, such as late-night TV watching. For some users this could lead to insomnia, Frisca Yan-Go, head of the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center in Santa Monica, California told the LA Times.

"The take-home lesson is that insomnia and electronics gadgets emitting light should not [be] mixed before bedtime," neurologist Alon Avidan, another associate professor at UCLA, agreed in an e-mail.