These simple strategies combat the insomnia-triggering blue light given off by your cell phone, tablet, and laptop

By Mirel Ketchiff
December 23, 2014

By now, you might have heard (and heard… and heard) that using electronics before bed isn't exactly conducive to a good night's sleep. The culprit: the blue light given off by these devices' screens, which tricks your brain into thinking it's daytime, and shuts down the body's sleep systems.

The latest study, which was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that it takes people who read on iPads before bed 10 minutes longer than those who prefer print books to drift off; the e-readers also had less rapid-eye movements at night, an indicatory of sleep quality. (Another issue? Sleep texting. Are You Textually Active?)

The study participants read for four hours each night, which is a bit much for even the biggest bookworms among us. (Though when you think about the time you spent at night in front of some screen-watching TV, texting, online shopping-it's not that big of a stretch.) But numerous other studies have shown that even smaller doses of blue light from electronics can keep you awake. And while forgoing digital devices before bed is probably the best way to ensure an uninterrupted night's sleep, it's not the only way. These three tips can also help.

Consider a Kindle

In the research above, the study authors investigated multiple tablets and e-readers, including the iPad, iPhone, Nook Color, Kindle, and Kindle Fire. Most emitted similar amounts of light-except the Kindle e-reader. It only reflects ambient light, which isn't as harmful to sleep as the emitted light from the other devices. (Electronics aren't the only sleep sappers. Here are several other Reasons You Can't Sleep.)

Keep Literature At Arm's Length

Many of the studies on electronics' effect on sleep look at tablets set to their maximum brightness. But if you dim the screen to the lowest setting and hold the device as far away from your face as possible (14 inches or more, according to research presented at SLEEP 2013), you'll drastically reduce the amount of light that actually reaches your eye, protecting your slumber.

Block the Blue

Apps like f.lux (free; and Twilight (free; automatically begin dimming your electronics' screens at sunset to minimize the amount of blue light you see at night. Or try a blue light-blocking screen protector, like SleepShield, for cell phones, tablets, and laptops (from $20;, or glasses, like BluBlocker (from $30; (Still awake? Learn How to Give Your Bedroom a Better-Sleep Makeover.)