Although many people still prefer an old fashioned paper book, the convenience of devices is winning out. So much lighter to hold, no light required. Then there is the ability to shop and buy books from the device anywhere in the world completely changes the travelling experience, and the added benefit of having access to your library.
I am a converted screen reader and I am not alone. Surveys have shown that 90% of Americans use a screen-based device before they go to sleep at least a few nights a week. At the end of 2013 it was estimated that over 43.7 million Kindle devices have been sold.
But researchers have found that light lit devices can cause a number of sleep related problems. And not just reading, any kind of screen-based activity. They are pressing for more research into the impacts of screens before bed given the younger generations propensity to move straight onto devices.
According to Harvard research there are a few contributing factors as to why screens are not good before bed:
- They prolong the time before you fall asleep
- Screen time delays the circadian clock
- It suppresses levels of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin
- Delays the timing of REM sleep and reduces the amount
- Reduces alertness the following morning
Are the e-readers better than tablets, phones and laptops? Yes.
It is the blue light, the wavelength common in smartphones, tablets and LED lighting that is able to disrupt the body clock. Here are a couple of good features to look for:
- An e-reader that does not emit light, such as the original Kindle. Only disadvantage is you need to read with the light on, no different from a paperback.
- E-readers which are illuminated (but not backlit) with small LEDs around the screen which point inward rather than outward; such as Kindle Paperlight and Nook Glowlight
Advice I have been given is no blue light devices after 8.30am. It is easier said than done, but think about how important a goods night sleep is!
Thanks Raph for the question!