Bedtime Buzzkill : Nighttime Note-taking Gadgets

Insomniacs are more adaptable than good sleepers, according to a study by Dr. Rachel Salas, an assistant professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Salas and her colleagues used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to determine the plasticity of insomniacs compared to good sleepers, and found that the “always on” state of insomniacs surprisingly makes their brains more adaptable. But for those living with insomnia or similar sleep depravities, an overactive brain can be a bedtime buzzkill.

There’s a short list of solutions that help me unwind at night; the TV has been removed from the bedroom, and I avoid the bright lights of touchscreen devices whenever possible. While these two tactics address the physical disruptions of bedtime (studies show the iPhone screen can trick your brain into thinking it’s still daytime and prevent a full night’s sleep), thoughts of things I need to do the following day often plague me for another hour. I’ve found that keeping a notepad on hand is the most effective method to quieting my brain, but doing so without turning the lights on can be a challenge.

Here are some note taking gadgets and products that let you clear your mind without the harsh act of switching on the lights.

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Lighted bedside notebooks


The Nite Note is compact enough for nightstand drawers, and comes with the convenience of a lighted notepad holder. Available at Amazon. This European notepad comes with an attached light has sleek design for a streamlined look. And if vintage is your style, you may be interested in this lighted notepad holder.


Bedside caddy + lighted pens


Fumbling around in the dark can be just as disruptive as switching on the lights. Keep a regular notepad and lighted pen always on hand with a bedside caddy. Etsy has plenty to choose from, with countless DIYers able to customize with fabric that matches your boudoir, while Amazon carries a clear alternative here. Apartment Therapy also recommends repurposing an Ikea remote control caddy for a bedside holster.

As far as lighted pens go, the NiteWriter is one of many affordable options on Amazon, along with this lighted pen pack designed for pilots. For a pimped out pen, check out the XBT Scribe.

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Do I have to give up my iPhone?


If note-taking apps are the most effective way for you to jot down thoughts and access them later, there are ways to continue using your favorite smart devices while minimizing the damaging effects of bright, blue lights. iOS and Android apps both have options for inverting screen colors, with apps that can automatically or easily switch to this view during nighttime hours. CNet shares a quick tutorial on how to create a shortcut for iOS phones and tablets to quickly toggle between inverted and regular color settings, with just three clicks of the homescreen button.

Amazon’s e-ink Kindle is also a night-safe gadget for notetaking, with a muted backlight and no color. See the Kindle’s note-taking apps here.


Let there be light


For those moments when it’s better to just turn on the light, keep things convenient with tap switches. Many can be retrofitted to standard metal lamps, and come with 3-way switches for a dimmer lighting option. Instructables has a tap light tutorial here for the DIY crowd.

photo credit: Insomnia via photopin (license)