It seems the death of paper is causing the death of sleep. As reading habits have shifted from books and magazines to e-readers and tablets, our sleeping patterns have become impacted. Backlighting from the two devices has been demonstrated to disrupt the body’s clock, its circadian rhythm, that controls our sleep schedule.
According to the study by the Mayo Clinic, “Some research suggests that screen time or other media use before bedtime interferes with sleep.”
A dozen volunteers spent a fortnight at a sleep centre, with a strict 10pm bedtime. For one week, half the volunteers were given regular books to be read by dim light, and the rest used backlit e-readers. The roles were switched the following week.
Levels of melatonin, the hormone that controls the body’s day-night cycle, were 50% lower in e-reader volunteers, compared to their book-reading counterparts. The data suggested that the drop in melatonin pushed the subject’s circadian rhythm back by an hour-and-a-half, and resulted in 10 minutes less REM sleep than the book readers.
The study is just the latest in a series that points to backlit tech use before bed hampering healthy sleep.
Source: Ars Technica