If you go to read a book before going to sleep, it better not be an ebook

If you go to read a book before going to sleep, it better not be an ebook

Many book lovers still prefer the traditional option of the paper book over an ebook. They value the tactile feel of a bound paper book. Paper books are generally very well designed, smell good, and carry a more human touch .

A paper book brings a stronger psychological sense of possession. You own the book as an almost totemic object. In an ebook you only use the book. But beyond the romantic halo, there is a practical (and scientific) reason why it is inadvisable to read ebooks before bed (at least some types of ebooks).

Backlight and melanin

High levels of brightness on an electronic device screen can contribute to eyestrain, a condition characterized by tired, itchy, and burning eyes.

There are also potential considerations for those who read e-books on light-emitting e-readers at night (although some e-readers don’t use light-emitting screens). Exposure to artificial light from light-emitting e-readers can interfere with users’ ability to sleep and ultimately lead to adverse health effects .

A 2014 study published in the journal PNAS thus suggests that reading an ebook before bed decreases the production of melatonin, a hormone that prepares the body for sleep. The e-books had also affected the reader’s alertness the next day .

Reading is unnatural because the natural state of the human brain, as well as that of most primates, tends to be distracting. However, reading a book requires intense concentration skills over a long period of time. Doing it on paper is just as unnatural than doing it in an ebook, but it seems more convenient to do it (at least for now) on paper.