That shiny new tablet or e-reader that you’re hoping Santa leaves under the tree could hurt your sleep health, new research suggests.
Picking up a printed book might be a better option as it takes longer to fall asleep after using a tablet or reading device before bed, according to a study conducted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
A two-week study that included 12 young people, involved them reading for four hours before going to sleep in a dimly lit room. For five nights, the participants read for four hours using a device followed by another five nights in which they read a printed book for the same amount of time.
Researchers found that people using e-readers before bedtime were much more likely to feel less sleepy. For those who read e-books or used a tablet, it was reported that it took an average of 10 minutes longer for them to be able to fall asleep along with less time spent in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
The researchers also analyzed blood samples taken from the participants which showed a postponement in the increase of melatonin levels for those who used an e-reader or tablet before bedtime. The bright ‘blue-light’ that is emitted from these devices can also contribute to the suppression of melatonin levels and an increase in alertness.