Reading a tablet at bedtime is bad for you. Pick up a book instead…

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Bad news today for anyone that loves to read on a tablet while in bed. A serious scientific study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which claims that such an activity could actually be keeping you awake but making you more sleepy the next day.

Until now, nobody had conducted any in-depth scientific research on the matter. But the boffins running the study revealed what some people have suspected for some time – it’s better for your body and sleep to read a paper book. They still exist in libraries, apparently.

Reading on a tablet is bad for your health

According to the authors, as quoted by the Washington Post, “A lot of people think this is psychological. But what we showed is that reading from light-emitting, e-reader devices has profound biological effects.”

So, it’s all to do with the light, rather than anything else such as keeping your brain active or getting cramp in your arm. The study sent 12 lucky participants to a dedicated sleep research lab (no, not the Thai Visa offices) for 14 days, where they read from an iPad for 5 days and then for 5 days from an actual book.

Handsfree Tablet Stand

The researchers monitored melatonin levels, REM sleep and various other complicated-sounding scientific metrics. It turns out that the iPad readers took 10 minutes longer to fall asleep, had less REM sleep and less melatonin in their blood, consequently causing them to be more tired the next day.

According to the Wall Street Journal: “Many people read things to help them fall asleep. They probably don’t realize that this technology is actually making them less likely to feel sleepy.”

It turns out then, that if you are going to read in bed, you’re better off with a paper book, or an E-Ink based device such as the Amazon Kindle.

I wonder if the findings also apply to playing games such as the maddeningly addictive Boom Beach on an iPad? Dr. Banks is frequently exhausted in the morning after an extensive all-nighter. Could this be the reason why?

Merry Christmas.

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4 Comments

  1. I wonder if they experimented with turning down the brightness level?

    If it is the amount of light that is the issue, then surely a reading light is brighter than my tablet with the brightness turned down very low and no other lights on?

  2. Dietmar Dzieyk on

    I read every night in my iPad books, because I cannot buy real books here in Thailand. I am German and loves high classic literature.
    But—– I will not have problems like in written text above, because Apple iPad changes automatically the screen into a black background and white letters. So you have deleted this problem of to get too less dopamine.