Side Effects of reading eBooks: Impact on Sleep Cycle

Side Effects of reading eBooks

Many of us love reading books. Some love literature, while some love educational content. There are different literary genres, and bookworms love them. Some people like printer hard copy, while some use eBooks digitally. eBook readers are new gadgets that are changing the reading scenario. These devices can hold a lot of content and provide a great reading experience. All we need to do is charge the battery and enjoy. These digital readers are great in terms of use and productivity. However, there might be some side effects of reading eBooks. One research of doctors of Harvard Medical School concluded that reading eBooks before sleeping is harmful.

In this digital era, we consume content on electronic devices. By content, we mean videos, music, articles, news, and books. Most of us use our computers, smartphone, and tablets for these works. We also read books on eBook readers, tablets, and smartphones as well. It all comes down to the device we own and comfort. Digital eBook readers are useful and fantastic. They come at a reasonable cost. We can carry them easily, and they hold thousands of books. Also, the battery life is quite long with a single charge. But there are some negative parts well.

We also have to see the negative effects of using these. Many people use tablets and dedicated eInk screens. There are some negative sides to these displays if we use them without care. A research was conducted by doing experiments with two groups. One group read normal books before sleep and another used eBook readers. The result showed the negative impacts of reading eBooks on the sleep cycle. The research consisted of 12 subjects for two weeks. Blood samples of participants were also tested regularly, and the results were not on the side of eBooks.

Problem and Cause: Blue Light & Less Melatonin

The experiment showed some interesting results. People who used eBooks had trouble getting sleep and also felt laziness in the morning. There were problems in the sleep cycle of participants. There were lower levels of melatonin in the eBook users as well. On the other hand, the normal printed book readers didn’t have lower levels of melatonin compared to digital screen users. Melatonin is a hormone that helps us to get sleep. In comparison to regular book readers, other subjects felt less sleepiness before bedtime as well.

The reason lies behind blue light and Circadian rhythm. Our body finds the difference in time by light. Our biological clock is adjusted that way. The light from eBook readers, tablets, mobiles, and computers gives artificial light to our senses, which lowers Melatonin’s production. Thus due to lack of it, the body can’t get into the sleep cycle. So the person has trouble getting sleep. Also, as the sleep cycle and time are disturbed, the person can’t get quality sleep due to disturbed routines. This makes people feel lazy in the morning.

More precisely, the problem is the blue light, which does harm. There are some readers like Kindle Paperwhite that come without light. They can only be used in the daytime so that they can be comparatively safer. The research is not against eBooks or digital screens here. It just suggests the side effects of using electronic displays with light at night. Most importantly, we should avoid screen time before sleeping.

Also Read: Two new particles discovered at CERN

Mitigation: Blue Light Filters and Usage Control

Using computers, mobile phones, and tablets until late at night will also affect sleep. This ultimately affects health in the same way. Once a sleep routine and the biological clock are altered, it is hard to reset it and bring it to be normal. Users should be careful about their digital consumption and use. Some device manufacturers are already pushing out blue light filters to tackle this. Software developers are also embedding monitors to track daily screen on time. This helps to alert users about unhealthy behavior.

There are some apps for smartphones that control blue light as well. F.lux is one popular example of such software for phones and computers. “Blue Light Filter – Night Mode, Night Shift” is another popular Android app. The best advice is to try to sleep at a fixed time. Also, try best to avoid using electronic devices at least half an hour before sleeping. If you can’t control it, at least try to use blue light filters.

The internet use graph from various ISP shows that the highest data consumption is during the day from offices. But it is highest at home at night, which means people use more electronics or gadgets at night. Nowadays, people use more smartphones and tablets. This excessive night use can surely hurt the sleep cycle as well as a daily healthy routine.


There are some other problems that hurt today’s youth, as well. Most of them don’t focus or give attention to their posture. They sit in a very unhealthy position that hurts their neck, shoulder, and back. Back and neck problem is becoming more popular in youths than older people. Among these problems, sleep should be also be given importance because it is critical.

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About the Author: Abhishek Chand

Structural Engineer by profession. Computer and smartphone enthusiast. Tech-savvy blogger and former Gadget reviewer of AP1 HD TV and TechnoNepal.

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