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Reading from a tablet before bed may affect sleep quality

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Participants said they felt sleepier when reading the physical book.

News Content:

(Reuters Health) – - People who read from an iPad for 30 minutes before going to sleep felt less sleepy and had different electrical activity in the brain during sleep than those who read from a physical book, a recent study found.

But the time it took to fall asleep and time spent sleeping were similar under both conditions.

“Since light has an alerting effect, we predicted a lower sleepiness in the iPad condition at bedtime compared to the book condition,” said lead author Janne Gronli of the University of Bergen in Norway. But it was surprising that the iPad light did not delay sleep initiation, she said.

Participants said they felt sleepier when reading the physical book, as reported in Sleep Medicine. After reading from an iPad, EEG readings showed delayed and reduced slow wave activity, representing deep sleep, in the brain after sleep onset compared to when the participants had been reading from a book.

The eye absorbs short wavelength blue light and signals to the brain that it is daytime by triggering waking and alerting active brain areas, Gronli said.

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