Going to bed with your favorite read may be the reason you’re not getting enough shut-eye. Though reading books before bed can be a great way to unwind and drift into a restful sleep, reading from an e-reader can have the opposite effect of the sleep-magic real books can produce.
NPR reports about a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that looks at the effects of e-readers on our sleep patterns. Researchers looked at the effects of reading from iPads in particular.
The study’s leader Anne-Marie Chang explains what they hoped to gain by comparing the effects iPad reading to real book reading before bed. She says, “We knew that light in the evening affects circadian rhythms and affects sleep and alertness. But we wanted to test if light from light-emitting devices, such as e-readers, which were gaining in popularity, would have the same effect if people were using them to read before bedtime.”
Participants involved in the study slept in a sleep lab for a couple of weeks and were given iPads to read from for five nights and then real paper books for another five. Four hours before bed participants read from their iPads and paper materials. Researchers found that on the nights participants read from iPads it took longer for them to fall asleep and spent less time in the REM (rapid eye movement) phase of sleep.
The REM cycle is so important because it’s the most restorative part of the sleep cycle. The participants in the study also reported feeling sleepier in the mornings after reading from iPads. Chang reminds us that sleep disturbances and deficiencies can lead to myriad health problems like diabetes, cardio vascular disease and obesity.
Researchers advise bed-time readers to use e-readers that don’t emit light like Kindles, or you can always just dust off one of those good old fashioned books straight from the book shelf before turning in.
What do you think of the new study that suggests e-readers that emit light can have a negative effect on your sleep cycle?
How do you get your reading in before bed?