Screen reading causes insomnia, backache — even serious illness
Yes, reading that blog post does make your butt look bigger. But mushy thighs are just one of the symptoms of screen reading.
In fact, the side effects of reading on the screen are starting to sound a lot like the insert in my asthma medication.
Every time you write a blog post, web page, news release or social media status update, you are subjecting your readers to:
Back, neck and shoulder pain
Lugging your iPad and iPhone around can be a pain in the neck. And the back and shoulders.
Americans are experiencing more back, neck and shoulder problems because of their handheld devices, the American Chiropractic Association announced recently.
That’s just one more obstacle you have to overcome to get people to read your online copy.
Is your website a pain in the ass?
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?
The Harvard/ Brigham and Women’s research supports previous studies, which also found that screen time before sleep can be detrimental. Several studies have associated lack of sleep with shortened life span.
Mushy thighs, obesity, heart disease and colon cancer
You might want to sit down for this. Or not.
Prolonged sitting shortens the average person’s life span by two years, according to a study by researchers at the American Cancer Society published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
“Sitting is the most underrated health threat of modern times,” writes Tom Rath, author of The New York Times bestseller Eat, Move, Sleep.
In other words, sitting is the new smoking.
Sitting for most of the day, according to a Washington Post piece, is linked to:
- Organ damage: heart disease, overproductive pancreas, colon cancer
- Muscle degeneration: mushy abs, tight hips, limp glutes
- Leg disorders: poor circulation, soft bones
- Back problems: inflexible spine, disc damage, strained neck, sore shoulders and back
- Foggy brain: Brain function slows when we are sedentary for a long time.
- Obesity and metabolic syndrome: high blood pressure, high blood sugar, a bigger waistline, abnormal cholesterol levels
We can just hope that our readers are reading our online messages on their iPhones while standing at the checkout counter at Whole Foods — and not on the lounge chair in front of the TV.
Not what we mean by ‘killer copy’
In this environment — where reading your message can be detrimental to your readers’ health — how can you get the word out online?