According to recent research, e-readers may make it particularly hard to get a good night’s sleep. A study followed 12 volunteers for a couple weeks and closely monitored all sleep habits and patterns. This study found that those who read from an iPad before going to sleep had a harder time actually falling asleep. They also spent less time in a crucial phase of sleep and were less alert the next day.

This is cause for concern because sleep disruptions may be associated with a variety of health problems, according to Anne-Marie Change, the study’s leader, who students sleep and circadian rhythms at the Brigham & Women’s hospital in Boston. Chang states, “sleep deficiency is associated with negative consequences for health,” including obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Previous research has indicated that exposure to certain types of light seems to disrupt sleep more than others, Chang explains. “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.”

This lead to the researchers asking 12 healthy young people to spend a couple of weeks in a sleep lab. For five night, they read what they considered to be relaxing material on an iPad for four hours before going to sleep. For another five night, they read the same kind of material from books made of paper.

In the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers found that on the nights participants read from iPads, it took longer for them to fall asleep and they spent less time in an important phase of sleep known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. “The also reported feeling less sleepy in the evening but more sleepy the following morning,” Chang says. The team also discovered that the light from the iPad was suppressing and delaying the production of melatonin.

Based on the findings, along with others, Chang recommends that if people want to read before bed, they should consider devices that don’t emit light–or just pull out an old-fashioned paper book.

 

This article is from NPR. Read the full article here.

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