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What’s the best way to ruin tonight and tomorrow? Read from an iPad before bed! This is according to research in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by way of Brigham and Women’s Hospital—so, please, give it the consideration it warrants.

Of course, the warning applies to reading from cellphones and laptops as well, and even TVs. What’s more, this research supports older studies, as Dr. Anne-Marie Change (associate neuroscientist in BWH’s Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders) explains: “We know from previous work that light from screens in the evening alters sleepiness and alertness, and suppresses melatonin levels. . . . This study shows comprehensive results of a direct comparison between reading with a light-emitting device and reading a printed book and the consequences on sleep.”

It goes without saying that sleep has myriad benefits, but most people don’t think carefully about how truly beneficial and necessary quality sleep is. So, if you still can’t or won’t put down your smartphone before bed, consider purchasing an app for Androids which filters and blocks blue light. Prefer to read straight off your laptop’s screen? Invest in an F.lux. Blue light is bad for melatonin production and excellent for inducing alertness—both of which are detrimental to quality sleep.

Dr. Chang still makes it clear that “The best recommendation (although not the most popular) would be to avoid use of light-emitting screens before bedtime.” However, depending on how much you desire and enjoy reading in this manner, flat-out kicking the habit cold turkey may not be a viable option. Each individual must weigh the pros of reading electronically against the consequences of lackluster sleep, and potentially adjust their lifestyle accordingly.

Unfortunately, using the “I didn’t know that was bad for me!” excuse is no longer an option. Unless the person you’re corresponding with hasn’t read this article, that is.

 

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