Reading Screens Before Bed Impacts Your Sleep

Do you unwind at the end of the day by reading a book or magazine before you fall asleep? Due to recent technological innovations and the affordability of once unattainable devices, people of all ages are using e-readers and cell phones to read or wind-down before bed. Recently scientists at Penn State and Harvard University found the bright light from Kindles and iPads keep us awake. The blue light emitted from these devices keeps the body awake by lowering the body’s production of melatonin.

The lead researcher of the study, Dr. Ann-Marie Chang reported, “Screens can have an ‘extremely powerful effect’ on the body’s natural sleep pattern. It may be having a greater impact than we previously thought.” Other studies have found similar results pertaining to sleep patterns and blue light but this study, supported by the National Institutes of Health, was designed to specifically find changes in the body that cause these disruptions.

After a two week study, the participants asked to read electronic books on iPads before bed were less sleeping and took significantly longer to fall asleep. Because your body does a lot of rejuvenation during sleep, these lost hours can make your memory worse and also reduce your alertness the next day. Dr. Chang also reports the long-term impact of these devices can include increased risk of specific cancers, obesity, and diabetes.

It is worth noting the iPad was used in the study but these effects are not limited to the iPad. Any device which includes a backlight will likely have this same effect. Examples of these devices are tablets, e-readers, smartphones, LED screens, and laptops. People of all ages are susceptible to the effects of these sleep-disrupting devices, as 90 percent of adults and 75 percent of children state they have at least one electronic device in their bedroom.

Luckily, readers that prefer digital books can still use e-readers without the backlight. There are several devices, like the Kindle standard, which does not use any backlight. Before you make the switch to digital books, consider the device you are selecting for yourself or your child so every family member can reap the benefits of good sleep on a nightly basis.

To learn more about the sleep-disrupting effects of devices or how you can improve your own sleep habits, book an appointment with the experts at FusionSleep. We specialize in sleep and are able to identify any disorders or habits which will impact your health.