Apple Ipad tablet
IN PHOTO: An illustration picture shows application icons on an Apple Ipad tablet held by a woman in Bordeaux, Southwestern France, February 4, 2013. Reuters

A recent study suggests that reading e-books in bed at night may be harmful. The study suggests that reading e-books right before going to bed may result in disturbed sleep patterns as well as alertness during the following day.

The study was conducted in the sleep department of the Harvard Medical School. It involved observing 12 participants and their sleep patterns and general health. The participants were given either an e-book or a printed book to read before bedtime, and their general behaviour and wellbeing was observed.

The study revealed that the participants that were given printed books to read were better able to get a good night's sleep. In comparison, the participants that were given e-books to read were reportedly less sleepy an hour before going to bed. In addition, they also took longer to get to sleep than their counterparts.

The study also revealed that those participants given an e-book to rea, showed suppressed levels of melatonin, which is a sleep-promoting hormone. They also, comparatively, experienced more REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. The participants themselves reported to taking longer than usual to shake off the morning grogginess as well.

The researchers opine that the light emitted by most of the e-book gadgets can be detrimental to the general health of an individual. The light can trick a person's biological or circadian clock into thinking it has more time before bed, thus reducing the production of melatonin and disrupting sleep patterns. While the study has nothing negative to say about e-book readers in general, the researchers do still opine that users should try to read printed books instead of e-books directly before bed.