Is Your eReader Keeping You Up At Night?
There are few things better than cozying up with a good book before drifting into peaceful slumber, but if you're using a Nook, Kindle Fire, iPad, or other backlit eReader to do your bedtime reading, the activity might not be as relaxing as it seems. A new 13-person study out of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Lighting Research Center found that a two-hour session with a luminous eReader suppresses melatonin—the hormone that helps regulate your circadian rhythms and signals your body to sleep at night—by about 22 percent; that's enough to leave you tossing and turning when you should be snoozing.
The findings sound like bad news for eBook aficionados, but the researchers are glass-half-full kind of people. They point out that this new information can help manufacturers create more "circadian-friendly electronic devices" that would increase or decrease the short-wave light emitted based on the time of day to increase our alertness during our morning reading and soothe us into a better night's sleep in the evening. The new knowledge can also be used to design tablets that would minimize seasonal affective disorder for those in gloomy regions and improve certain sleep disorders for seniors and other problem sleepers...all while you read, play games, or watch movies. Hurrah for the future!
The short-wave light from any LCD screen—including your phone, computer screen, and television—has the same effect on melatonin suppression as the eReader light in the study, so if you suffer from insomnia, try stepping away from the screens for a few hours before bedtime or, at the very least, turning the brightness down as low as possible.
Anybody read with a backlit eReader in bed? Have you noticed any effect on your sleep?
Photo via Ben Dodson
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