Health Warning:  Reading From e Readers at Night May Mean Less Sound Sleep and an Exhausting Day Ahead



Do you believe that going back to the old way of reading using paper books will be healthier for you in the long run? This is the findings of a research team from Harvard Medical School. They did a comparative study of night reading using a real book against e-readers; their conclusion was that the use of an e-reader makes it harder to fall sleep and you’ll end up feeling less inclined to wake up and go through your daily routines.

Less light during the evening is definitely better, according to the research. This might be the reason a lot of people go to sleep with their bedroom lights turned off at night. The presence of light during bedtime has been suspected to be dangerous to our health.

The presence of natural light acts as sort of a timer for our biological clock that tells us when its time to rest or wakeup. However, blue lights, which are usually used in mobile devices such as smartphones and androids, can mess up our internal clock, altering the levels of the sleep hormone, melatonin. This is the reason for the impaired sleep patterns. .

The research was carried out with 12 people who were locked for two weeks inside a laboratory. For five days they spent their time reading from paper books and for the next five days from iPads.

In the course of the research, blood samples from the participants were examined regularly and the findings was that reading an e-book led to reduced melatonin levels.

Nooks and Kindle Fires have similar light wavelengths as other e-readers and, therefore, have the same after-effects, the researchers concluded.

Lead researcher Prof Charles Czeisler told the BBC News website: “The light emitted by most e-readers is shining directly into the eyes of the reader, whereas from a printed book or the original Kindle, the reader is only exposed to reflected light from the pages of the book.”

Altered sleep patterns may have a bad effect on health.

“Sleep deficiency has been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic diseases like obesity and diabetes, and cancer.

“Thus, the melatonin suppression that we saw in this study among participants when they were reading from the light-emitting e-reader concerns us.”

The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.






  1. Dave says

    Great article! I have been using a SleepShield screen protector that blocks the blue light on my phone and iPad. It’s helped the quality of my sleep and my childrens, we are definitely guilty of using our devices before bed and even in bed.

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