Insomnia and melatonin

Post date: 16-Sep-2012 13:56:46

Insomnia can result from melatonin suppression by iPad use. Insomnia treatment is a common need for which people seek psychiatric consultation. Insomnia is a symptom associated with emotional problems depression and anxiety. Insomnia also results from work-shift changes. Most frequently insomnia results from poor sleep hygeine - a gradual deterioration of sleep rituals until they are non existent. Sleep is a basic cyclical occurrence in most animals including humans. It is induced by natural cycles of light and dark to which the brain is entrained (circadian rhythms) by evolution. The socialised animal that is present day man has moved away from these natural cues and replaced them with artificial social cures.

Light can be harnessed for insomnia treatment. Light is the prime natural cue for the sleep-wake cycle. The most powerful of light cues are those that are driven by dawn (wakefulness) and dusk (sleep). Dawn light phase is a major suppressor of melatonin, the natural sleep inducing hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. Dusk is the strongest booster of melatonin and primes the brain for sleep. This natural cycle of day and night has governed human activity and sleep until the advent of interior lighting. The relationship of mood and circadian rhythms is manipulated in light therapy and sleep deprivation for the insomnia treatment. Research now shows that 2 or more hours of iPad use before bed can suppress melatonin and cause insomnia.

Natural melatonin for insomnia treatment

  • Go for a walk at dusk

  • Use only essential artificial light at the dimmest possible level after dark

  • Switch of all screens including your iPad at least half an hour before planned sleep


Brittany Wood, Mark S. Rea, Barbara Plitnick, Mariana G. Figueiro. Light level and duration of exposure determine the impact of self-luminous tablets on melatonin suppression. Applied Ergonomics, Available online 31 July 2012