Tuesday, December 23, 2014

"How E-Books May Disrupt Your Sleep"

According to this column in the New York Times, reading an e-book before bedtime is probably a mistake for those who really want a good night's sleep.
Compared with a printed book, a light-emitting e-book decreased sleepiness, reduced REM sleep (often called dream sleep), and substantially suppressed the normal bedtime rise of melatonin, the hormone that regulates the sleep and wake cycle. The e-book users took longer to fall asleep and felt sleepier in the morning.
Although I don't have any scientific data to back up this theory, my own experiences pretty much verify what is described in the above paragraph.  Reading a tree-book in bed makes me sleepy...every time...never fails.  On the other hand, reading from my Kindle or iPad not only allows me to read much longer before falling asleep, it also guarantees that I'm going to sleep so lightly that I'll be tired when I climb out of bed in the morning.  That happens almost every time.

I figured this out the hard way a long time ago.  Anyone else notice the same thing?


  1. Very interesting. I only read tree-books in bed so they generally don't interfere with my sleep unless they give me especially vivid dreams which happens now and then.

  2. It sure works this way with me, Stefanie. Either way, I eventually fall asleep, but it's much quicker with tree-books than with e-books for me...much quicker. Something about looking into the light, I think, is definitely the difference-maker.

  3. I never would have put it together, but same here.

  4. That's interesting. I wonder about an e-reader without a screen light? I've been thinking of getting an older kindle that doesn't have that, just because of the longer battery life- for travel- but now I'm curious. By the way, when did "tree-books" become a phrase? I just noticed it on several other posts today.

    1. Jeane, that's an excellent point. When I used my old Paperwhite, whose screen is not very bright, I never noticed a sleep problem. With the Fire's much brighter screen, I noticed it immediately.

      I tried to start that "tree book" thing over a year ago without any luck. Since I've been blogging again in the last three months or so, I've used it a lot again and it seems to be spreading a bit. Don't have any idea if I originated the term, but I had never seen it before using it as part of the title for a post I made on Book Chase.

  5. I use Kindle that doesn't have screen light. I didn't realise that new Kindles (not tablets) have screen lights (that you can't turn off??). Most e-book readers (not tablets but actual readers) didn't have screen lights as far as I was aware. That was the whole point - so that they don't tire your eyes they way laptops do.

  6. Kinga, the Kindle Fire units are really tablets instead of dedicated e-readers, so they are backlit. The user can set the strength of the light to suit himself, but they are still pretty bright if used in a dark room. The Paperwhites and Voyagers don't use that kind of light, so they would definitely be less intrusive upon one's sleep than the Fires.