Reading From Your Smartphone/Tablet Before Bedtime Can Adversely Impact Sleep

Reading From Your Smartphone/Tablet Before Bedtime Can Adversely Impact Sleep

BOSTON, MA – Use of a light-emitting electronic device (LE-eBook) in the hours before bedtime can adversely impact overall health, alertness, and the circadian clock which synchronizes the daily rhythm of sleep to external environmental time cues, according to researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) who compared the biological effects of reading an LE-eBook compared to a printed book.  These findings of the study are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on December 22, 2014. “We found the body’s natural circadian rhythms were interrupted by the short-wavelength enriched light, otherwise known as blue light, from these electronic devices,” said Anne-Marie Chang, PhD, corresponding author, and associate neuroscientist in BWH’s Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders. “Participants reading an LE-eBook took longer to fall asleep and had reduced evening sleepiness, reduced melatonin secretion, later timing of their circadian clock and reduced next-morning alertness than when reading a printed book.” Previous research has shown that blue light suppresses melatonin, impacts the circadian clock and increase alertness, but little was known about the effects of this popular technology on sleep.   The use of light emitting devices immediately before bedtime is a concern because of the extremely powerful effect that light has on the body’s natural sleep/wake pattern, and may thereby play a role in perpetuating sleep deficiency. During the two-week inpatient study, twelve participants read LE-e-Books on an iPad for four hours before bedtime each night for five consecutive nights. This was repeated with printed books.  The order was randomized with some reading the iPad first and others reading the printed book first.  Participants reading on...

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