Bedtime screen reading keeps folks up all night
Here’s one more obstacle to reaching readers online: Reading that email or blog post before bedtime can literally cause your readers to lose sleep.
The researchers observed folks reading an e-book on an iPad for four hours before bedtime. Then they watched the same participants read printed books before bedtime.
Reading from a screen before bedtime makes readers:
- Stay awake longer. Screen readers took 10 minutes longer to fall asleep than print readers. That’s because blue light from the screen reduces readers’ levels of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep and sleep cycles.
- Get sick. That reduction in melatonin may also increase readers’ risk of contracting breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity, studies show.
- Suffer body clock confusion. Their device’s blue light also messes with readers’ circadian rhythms. In other words, reading your blog post on an iPad at 10 p.m. can give your readers jet lag. (And my goal in life is to never write anything that makes my readers feel as if they’ve just stumbled off of a flight from Boston to Bhutan.)
- Enjoy less REM sleep. Known as the “dreaming” phase, this crucial stage of sleep is what lets our brains process memories, emotions and stress. Afraid your co-workers might go postal? Have you ever considered that your web copy might be the culprit?
- Stumble into work late and exhausted. Not exactly the purpose of our intranet, is it?
Communicators obviously can’t control when or on what device audience members read. But we can control the message. When you’re writing for the screen, make messages faster and easier to read.