Do you enjoy a good e-book at bedtime? How well are you sleeping?
A team from Harvard Medical School compared reading paper books and light-emitting e-readers before sleep. They found it took longer to nod off with a back-lit e-reader, which led to poorer quality sleep and being more tired the next morning. Original Kindle readers do not emit light so should be fine, say experts.
Overall, they found that the use of portable light-emitting devices immediately before bedtime had biological effects that may perpetuate sleep deficiency and disrupt circadian rhythms, both of which can have an impact on the quality of your sleep.
Our body clock keeps rhythm with day and night by our internal body clock, which uses light to tell the time. Blue light which is common in smartphones, tablets and LED lighting, is able to disrupt the body clock. Blue light in the evening can slow or prevent the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.
In a study 12 people were locked in a sleep laboratory for two weeks. They spent five days reading from a paperback and five days from an iPad. Regular blood samples showed the production of the sleep hormone melatonin was reduced by reading an e-book. People also took longer to fall asleep, had less deep sleep and were more tired the next morning.
The researchers said other e-readers such as the Nook and Kindle Fire produced similar wavelengths of light and would have the same impact (but the original ‘non-light emitting’ Kindle type devices).
So how can audiobooks help?
In the long history of parenting, few methods for putting a fussy baby to sleep have gained a reputation for tried-and-true success like good old-fashioned storytelling. As it turns out, adults often aren’t all that different from fussy babies when it comes to falling asleep! We too can sometimes be gently lulled into dreamland by listening to a good (or maybe not so good) story.
At first by listening to a story allows an active mind to remain active, but it also keeps the mind distracted from the cares and concerns that might otherwise keep you awake. However, finding a devoted and willing storyteller to do the job for us as an adult seem unlikely? Luckily, technology offers an easily accessible substitute in the form of an audiobook.
In addition to providing a convenient way to “read” great literature, audiobooks can double as an effective sleep aid that can equal that of a great bedtime storyteller (just like to mum used to!). So, whether you’re a seasoned insomniac or just suffering with lack of sleep in the short term an audiobook might be the answer to you getting a good night’s sleep.
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