Are Your Reading Habits Ruining Your Health?

[responsive]Print[/responsive]We’ve known for a while now that print readers retain more and comprehend what they read better than digital book readers. (This may be one reason why college students prefer print textbooks to digital texts.)

Now, new research is showing that digital reading may actually be wreaking havoc on our bodies as well, damaging sleep patterns, causing fatigue and even depression, according to Lecia Bushak in Medical Daily.

“A recent study out of Harvard University found that reading an e-book before bed lessened the production of an important sleep hormone known as melatonin,” Bushak notes. “As a result, people took much longer to fall asleep, experienced less deep sleep, and were more fatigued in the morning.”

The sleep deficiency caused by a lack of melatonin, notes the lead author of the study Charles Czeisler, can increase our risk of heart disease, metabolic disorders and even cancer. Czeisler noted that the suppression of melatonin caused by the light of the digital screens was enough to cause some real concerns.

Melatonin aside (some might argue you can always take a supplement for any deficiency there), reading on a device might also be raising your overall stress levels.

“Constant use of technology not only disrupts our sleeping patterns and throws off our circadian rhythms, but it fosters a shorter attention span and fractured focus — online, we jump from meme to meme and link to link, checking Facebook intermittently,” notes Bushak. “Social media and technological distractions also always seem to foster guilt and regret, and before we know it, three hours have passed and our brains feel like mush.”

Maybe tonight we should put down the gadgets, pour ourselves a cup of tea and pick up a good book. Your brain and your body will thank you for it.