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March 14, 2016

Reading iPad before bed can delay deep sleep, study finds

Restorative "slow wave" sleep delayed by 30 minutes when people read tablet before bed

Reading an iPad before bed delays the onset of deep, restorative sleep, researchers in Norway have found.

As Reuters reported, scientists recruited 16 people to participate in a three-night study. On one night the participants read nothing, on another night they read an iPad for 30 minutes and on another night a physical book for 30 minutes.

The researchers monitored electrical activity in the brain while the participants slept, while also measuring when they fell asleep, how long they stayed asleep, and how long they spent in each sleep cycle.

The good news: people didn't sleep less or have trouble falling asleep when they read an iPad instead of a book. The bad news: once they were asleep, it took around half an hour longer for the brain to start emitting "slow waves," which represent the deepest stage of sleep.

This could create long-term consequences because the slow-wave stage allows the body to truly rest. Considering that 90 percent of Americans use electronic technology before bed, according to a 2011 poll, hardly anyone in the country might be getting a fully restorative night's rest.

Read the full story here.