How can e-readers and smartphones cause trouble sleeping?

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E-readers and smartphones can cause trouble sleeping by more than keeping you up past your bedtime. Lots of people enjoy a bit of quiet time for reading at night. How many times in old television shows did we see a couple reading books or magazines in bed before sleeping?

As time has gone by, though, the printed materials became more often replaced by e-readers, tablets and smartphones. While this technology comes with numerous advantages, new studies have found that the devices themselves are to blame for a new set of problems, namely reduced sleep hygiene, disrupted circadian rhythms, reduced alertness the next day and all the other problems these conditions can cause.

Sleep vs. e-readers and smartphones

Following proper sleep hygiene is an essential part of complete health. If you aren’t getting the right amount of quality sleep each night, you are more likely to gain weight and other health issues.

The problem with e-readers and smartphones compared to books is the light they produce. Instead of calm, ambient light used by bedside lamps when we read books, smartphones and their ilk use a short-wavelength light known as blue light. It’s a different type of light altogether and, as such, affects our bodies differently.

The troubles with blue light

Blue light has already been shown to affect our circadian rhythms, or 24-hour clock, in other studies by disrupting when our body creates melatonin. When your internal clock is messed up, you have a host of other problems attached to it. Your gut flora, for example, are negatively affected by this, which can cause added weight gain, a decreased immune system and poor Insulin Efficiency.

The latest study out of Harvard Medical School and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), compared the effects of 4 hours of reading printed books before sleep over a 2-week period and 4 hours of reading off a tablet for the same amount of time.

When using an e-reader/blue light device participants:

  • were not as sleepy at night and took longer to fall asleep
  • spent less time in the most recuperative stages of sleep
  • were less alert in the morning

What you can do

Sleep hygiene is an important part of the Olumia Life system. You need to get about 7-9 hours of sleep each night, but quantity isn’t as important as quality. You need to be refreshed and recuperated when you wake, which means you also need to make the most of the limited time for rest that you may have. You can learn more about the stages of sleep, how sleep deprivation affects your health and much more in other articles in Olumia Life Knowledge.

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