Bookish Hot Take: Get Rid of the E-Readers for a Better Sleep

You may think that reading before bed can help you fall asleep, but there is a chance that it could be keeping you awake. This can be due to e-readers.

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When you are cozy in bed and ready to wind down, most pre-bedtime readers don’t consider how they are reading. It doesn’t matter how boring the material may be, but if you are reading straight off a screen, or e-readers, studies show that it’ll call for a night of restless sleep.

A team of researchers at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital got a bunch of adults to perform a study where half of them read from print. The other half read from an iPad. Then, the groups swapped places.


The results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and it showed a clear distinction. Participants noted they were less sleepy at night after staring at e-readers, taking about 10 more minutes to fall asleep than the print set. Though both groups got eight hours of sleep, the e-reading group did not get much REM.

The report reads: “Furthermore, not only did they awaken feeling sleepier, it took them hours longer to fully ‘wake up’ and attain the same level of alertness than in the printed book condition.”

The researchers made a consensus that the short-wavelength light emitted by many e-readers confuses the daily rhythms of our bodies. This type of light is common in iPads, Kindles, Nooks, and Kindle Fires. Unlighted e-readers like the OG Kindle share more characteristics with print than their electro-cousins.

Charles Czeisler, one of the study authors, told 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 feel less sleepy.”

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