Do I need a blue light filter for my Kindle Paperwhite?

The latest models of the Paperwhite use a reduced blue-spectrum back-light, as compared to previous models and other devices. Still, some users will find that reading either in the dark or just before bed can cause irritation and sleep disruptions. Thankfully there are many affordable options available for stick-on blue-light filters that do double-duty as screen protectors for any make and model Kindle device.

Of course, there are benefits to covering up the blue light. For those looking for something a little less permanent and a little more stylish, some blue-light reducing “gamer” glasses will offer the same protection from eye-strain. They have the added benefit of not being restrained to just one device.

Do I have to buy something, or are there some free fixes?

Blue-light affects everyone differently, and for some, the irritation may not be frequent or disruptive enough to warrant spending more money on the device. In those cases, some simple changes to the Kindle’s settings and how it’s used may solve the problem.

Turning down the backlight in the device settings will not only reduce the amount of blue light your eyes are exposed to; it will also add hours of battery life for further reading. Limiting your use of the Kindle at night or in the dark will also significantly reduce eye strain and help improve your sleeping patterns.

Don’t Let Your E-Reader Keep You Up at Night

Having trouble getting to sleep? It could be your iPad, your Kindle or any other screen you use for reading before turning the lights out. New research explains why this happens. But what can you do about it — short of giving up your device?

The Lighting Research Center at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute recently published a study that explained how tablets and e-readers keep users up at night. A dark room triggers the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that acts as a messenger telling the body it’s time to sleep, and lighted screens interfere with that message.

Any light can make it tough to fall asleep (that’s why many parents with young children bemoan the onset of daylight savings time). But light of shorter wavelengths, such as the bluish tints emitted from a LED-backlit screens, suppresses nocturnal melatonin, according to the sleep study. The brighter the light and longer the exposure, the more difficulty it will cause in falling asleep.

The findings come just after Amazon introduced its new Kindle Paperwhite e-readers, which offer higher contrast, lit displays — an answer to Barnes & Nobles’ popular Nook with GlowLight. And multi-purpose tablets such as the iPad and newcomer Google Nexus 7 are frequently used as e-book readers. But new features aren’t necessarily better when it comes to sleep.

“The ones that do not emit light should be better ,” Mariana Figueiro, director of the Lighting Research Center’s Light and Health Program, told TechNewsDaily.

She offered some tips for getting a better night’s sleep without giving up your e-reader or tablet.

Figueiro recommends reducing the brightness of the screen to its minimum (which helps conserve battery life, too). Tablet users can go into “settings” to do this. Kindles and Nooks that lack a built-in light cannot adjust the screen, but because the device’s e-ink displays have lower contrast, these e-readers are less disruptive to sleep. However, Kindle Paperwhites and Nook with GlowLight should be dimmed as much as possible.

Readers should also reduce the amount of time spent using the device prior to bedtime.

“One hour exposure is not as bad. After two hours, we saw significant melatonin suppression,” Figueiro said. “Power it off at least one hour prior to bed.”

Most devices give users some text and display color options for reading. For instance, in iBooks for the iPad, tapping the font icon at the top right corner of a page displays a number of adjustments for nighttime reading. Here, readers can dim the screen and choose the Night theme, which shows white type on a black field, the configuration Figueiro recommended. E-readers and Kindle or Nook apps used on a laptop or other device offer the same white-on-black scheme.

Despite what your mom probably told you as a kid (“Read in bright light or you’ll go blind”), reading in lower light isn’t harmful, and it will make falling asleep easier.

“Low level illumination, equivalent to a nightlight, for example, is okay with a tablet,” Figueiro said. You should also hold your device as far away from your eyes as possible — and comfortable — to reduce the amount of light that reaches the eyes. Enlarge the font size if necessary, a feature that all e-readers, tablets and reading apps offer.

If you’re still having trouble falling asleep, it may not be your device.

“All of these will help minimize melatonin suppression, but one can still be active and alert because of the task,” she said. “So we cannot blame it all on the light coming from the screen.”

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Do Kindle Paperwhites Emit Blue Light?

Devices such as the kindle fire, samsung tablets, etc, that have LCD screens emit light, but most can be tuned to reduce the blue light spectrum, easing the eyes during times of rest.

Your best bet is to use a warm LED or incandescent reading lamp with ebooks, as the readers do not emit light.

Does Kindle voyage emit blue light?

No, not specifically. E-readers without a frontlight do not emit any color of light. The lights used to illuminate the Paperwhite and Voyage models are white LEDs, which emit across the entire spectrum (including blue). My Kindle Fire won’t turn on, but it has a green light on.

How do I stop the blue light on my Kindle?

To turn Blue Shade on or off, swipe down from the top of the screen and tap Blue Shade. To adjust Blue Shade settings: Swipe down from the top of the screen and select Settings. Select Display, then tap Blue Shade.

Is Kindle backlight for night reading?

How to Read a Kindle in the Dark Using the Backlight. The Paperwhite version of the Amazon Kindle e-reader has a built-in light that allows you to read content in the dark. That means you don’t have to turn on a light at night and disturb your significant other if you want to relax and read a good book on your Kindle.

Does Kindle have a night mode?

Although the Kindle does not have an official night mode, if you read with a Kindle Fire you can change the display color mode to white on black (white text with a black background), reducing the amount of light from the screen.

Is Kindle OK for eyes?

Amazon kindle is one great product for reading, with no harm to eyes. Thus, it provides a great ease to eyes, and its the e-ink tech. that makes Kindle easy to read, even in the bright sunlight. But nowadays a new breed of Kindle called the Kindle paper-white, which is backlit, allows you to read even in dark.

Is Kindle screen better for eyes?

If you are using Kindle e-readers (and not Kindle Fire tablets), then you are not seeing an LED or LCD screen. These are e-Ink screens and are designed not to cause that kind of eye-strain. So, the answer is no. Kindle e-readers won’t harm you eyes like LED screens.

Does Kindle Paperwhite Emit Blue Light?

We may earn a small comission from the companies or products mentioned in this post.

We all know that blue light can impact your eyes. Many people want to know if a Kindle Paperwhite emits blue lights.

As with any other screen device, the Kindle Paperwhite does emit blue light. However, it is at a much lower level than phones, tablets, or other Kindles and e-readers.

If you want to look at the latest prices and reviews for a Paperwhite, .

What You’ll Learn

What is Blue Light?

Not many people know what blue light is, so it’s essential to understand that before delving into how to reduce blue light on the Kindle Paperwhite. Light is made up of electromagnetic particles that travel in waves of different lengths.

Because these lengths have an inverse relationship to the energy they produce, shorter wavelengths have higher power; alternatively, longer wavelengths have lower power.

Visible light partitions of the light spectrum are what our eyes are sensitive to, such as blue, green, yellow, orange, and red.

The blue light that is used for backlighting on mobile devices has high amounts of energy This is what has been shown to have adverse effects on our sleep, as well as health in general.

That said, blue light is not always considered to be bad; for instance, the sun produces blue light and we are exposed to this regularly. Natural blue light can be very beneficial to us; by boosting out alertness, improving our moods, and our general well-being.

Blue light is like a signal for our bodies, it helps us to inherently know when it is light outside and helps to regulate our sleeping patterns and behaviors.

The negative aspects of blue light are closely associated with sources of this light that are artificially engineered, such as backlighting on computer screens and mobile devices.

The blue light that is produced from these types of devices can cause a strain to our eyes, give us headaches, and can damage our eyes over time.

One of the most common negative aspects of blue light is how it can affect our sleep.

Our bodies see blue light as a sensor of letting us know when it is light outside and when we should be awake. Exposure to blue light before bed can mess without bodies’ capabilities of producing melatonin and affects our natural circadian rhythm.

This not only makes it hard to fall asleep but lowers the overall quality of sleep that we receive.

Does the Kindle Emit Blue Light?

Many hand-held mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets use blue light spectrums for their backlighting.

Although many newer devices utilize better filtering methods for the blue light, some tablets such as the Kindle emit blue light at all times.

And although the Kindle Paperwhite does emit a meager amount of blue light compared to other e-readers on the market, it does still emit some of it.

Studies have shown that there is still enough blue light emitted from the Paperwhite to have adverse effects on your sleep, melatonin production, and disrupt your circadian rhythm.

Does the Kindle Paperwhite have a Blue Light Filter?

Although the Kindle Paperwhite has far less blue light spectrums compared to other tablets and e-readers, it is still apparent.

Because there is less blue light from the backlighting on the Paperwhite, there is currently no functionality available to lower the blue light on the device, such as a night mode that other devices have.

However, you can manually turn down the brightness setting on your Paperwhite, as this will help to reduce the blue light.

If you want to do this, but still would like to read when the room is darkened, you can use another source of light to illuminate the surface of the Kindle Paperwhite.

A lot of people will use a nightlight such as a lamp, or a clampable low-wattage light for this purpose. Additionally, there are products available that can permanently disable the blue light of the Paperwhite by using a stick-on filter.

How do I Turn Off Blue Shade on my Kindle?

Blue Shade uses specialized filters to limit exposure to blue light and was added by Amazon to most Kindle devices through an update.

This feature limits the amount of blue light that is emitted, which makes reading e-books and using the Kindle easier on the eyes.

Blue Shade works by offering warm color filters instead of blue light, so you can still easily use the Kindle and read e-books in a dark room.

This feature not only lets you easily use your Kindle in the dark, but also makes sure that you are not disrupting your circadian rhythm if reading before bed; melatonin will still be produced by your body the way it should, and your sleep will not be affected.

It is relatively easy to toggle Blue Shade on and off and to do so you will simply swipe down from the top of the screen and tap Blue Shade. To adjust the Blue Shade from the settings menu, you can swipe down from the top, and select Settings.

From here, select Display, then tap Blue Shade. This will toggle it on and off, making it easy to switch between having Blue Shade selected or not.

Is Kindle Bad for your Eyes?

Anything that has a blue light will ultimately be wrong for your eyes. Unfortunately, the Kindle is no exception to this.

However, there are steps that you can take and settings that you can adjust to lessen the adverse effects that back-lit electronic devices can have on your eyesight, sleep patterns, and overall health.

By reducing our exposure to blue light, we are effectively lessening the amount of strain on our eyes, keeping out sleep patterns from getting out of control, and maintaining our overall quality of health.

By following these steps below you can help to reduce the amount of artificial blue light that you are exposed to:

  • Turn on Blue Shade, or use a film protectant on your Kindle
  • Turn the backlight all the way down
  • Use other sources of light to use your Kindle

Although I have not personally tested them, there are non-prescription glasses that have a blue light blocker in them, and I have heard that they work quite well.

It is also important to remember that non-artificial blue light is good for us, as well as our state of mind.

This is received from the Sun, and you should not worry about being outside during the day as it relates to blue light exposure. Just make sure to wear sunscreen!

Kindle Paperwhite (2018)

“The 2018 refresh for the Kindle Paperwhite makes an already excellent ebook reader nearly perfect.”

  • New IPX8 water-resistant design is great for tubs and pools
  • Access to massive bookstore
  • Good battery life
  • Bluetooth connectivity for audiobooks
  • Cannot customize page-turn gestures
  • No option to adjust color temperature

It’s has been three years since Amazon last updated its iconic Kindle Paperwhite. During that time, Amazon released two versions of its premium Kindle Oasis ebook reader, as well as a refresh to its entry-level Kindle, but it’s finally time for the Paperwhite to shine. At $130, it’s slightly more expensive than its predecessor, but this is the cheapest Kindle from Amazon with water resistance, and there’s Bluetooth now as well so you can listen to Audible audiobooks with wireless earbuds. It faces stiff competition, but the Paperwhite comes close to being the perfect ebook reader everyone needs.

Small, lightweight, and easy to hold

The Kindle Paperwhite is a near clone of its predecessor, and that’s not bad. It’s about as basic as any ebook reader can look, with a slim profile, matte finish, and a lightweight design that makes it easy to hold for extended periods of time.

Like earlier versions of the Paperwhite, you’ll find a six-inch E Ink screen packed with 300 pixels per inch (ppi), surrounded by chunky bezels. The bezels are flush with the screen this time around, which is a minor but thoughtful change that makes it a little easier to flip pages, as there are no page turn buttons.

On the bottom is the power button and a MicroUSB charging port. It’s a bit of a shame Amazon did not go with the more universal USB-C charging port in 2018, but we’ve yet to see another ebook reader with this charging port just yet.

Another nice addition to the Paperwhite is an iPX8 rating, allowing you to use it in the tub or at the pool.

Flip it over and you’ll find a rubberized back that’s slightly curved. Other than the small recessed Amazon logo on the top third of the Paperwhite, it’s unadorned, making it easy to hold in any position.

A major addition to this year’s Paperwhite is an iPX8 rating, allowing you to use it in the tub or at the pool. It should protect the ebook reader in up to two meters of water for 60 minutes. It’s a nice addition that makes the Paperwhite more versatile in a variety of reading conditions.

Crisp display

If you’re a fan of the crisp six-inch E Ink screen on the old Kindle Paperwhite you’re in luck: The 2018 Paperwhite has the exact same display. At 300 PPI, text and images look sharp, and perfect for reading.

Steven Winkelman/Digital Trends

The marquee feature that makes the Paperwhite so special however is its built-in LEDs that illuminate the display. It allows you to read in just about any condition. There’s also a black and white feature for readers who are light sensitive. The display is easy to read in all environments, though the automatic brightness doesn’t go low enough when reading in the dark — we had to manually adjust it to our liking.

We’re more disappointed at the lack of a blue-light filter, or any kind of option to adjust color temperature on the Paperwhite. The similarly-priced Kobo Clara HD also has a front-lit display along with an excellent blue-light filter called ComfortLight Pro. Filtering blue light at night can be beneficial for your health, as it can affect your sleep and therefore your health otherwise, and we’d have liked to see this option here.

Amazon sent us a leather and water-safe cover for the new Paperwhite. Both do a great job of protecting the display, but they also have an added bonus: They cause the screen to illuminate when opened, and put it to sleep when closed. It’s a lovely feature that means you don’t have to worry about pressing the power button to turn the screen on, or accidentally change pages when you’re done reading.

Fast and intuitive software

If you’ve ever used an ebook reader before, you should have no problem getting around the Kindle Paperwhite. When you turn the device on you’ll see the home screen. This is where you’ll find your current book, reading list, as well as books your friends have read on Goodreads. There’s a new option to swipe up, and you’ll be greeted with book recommendations, notable options in the Prime Reading program, and a list of Amazon best sellers. It’s easy to miss this feature unless you pay close attention to the bottom of the screen.

Steven Winkelman/Digital Trends

Across the top of the display are key system icons, such as the Wi-Fi / LTE indicator, battery icon, and time. Below that, you’ll find a menu with navigation options, a brightness setting icon, search bar, and links to Goodreads and the Kindle Store. While all of this information is on display on the home screen, you simply need to tap the top of the page in any book to access it.

Alternatives

  • Kobo Clara HD
  • Kobo Forma
  • Apple iPad Pro

In addition to supporting Kindle ebooks, this year’s Paperwhite has another trick up its sleeve. Amazon added Bluetooth connectivity to the reader, allowing you to pair Bluetooth headphones and listen to your favorite Audible audiobooks. It adds an extra level of usefulness to the ebook reader, though it may be simpler or easier to just use your smartphone. The 4GB storage option has also been replaced with 8GB and 32GB options this year to support larger Audible files.

Reading a book on the Kindle Paperwhite is as simple as tapping on its cover from the home screen. Once in a book you can alter its appearance by tapping the top of the display and selecting Page Display. From this menu you can adjust both the font and its size as well as text layout on the page. There’s also an option to create a profile of your chosen preferences so you can quickly select it for future books.

Steven Winkelman/Digital Trends

And while the Paperwhite now offers more screen customizations than ever, there’s one thing that’s missing: You cannot customize page turns. Since the Paperwhite doesn’t have page turn buttons, we wish we could have at least customized screen gestures. It’s a feature on Kobo ebook readers we’ve come to love. Instead, you can only tap the left or right edges of the screen, or drag the page across. It’s sounds simple, but it can be tough to reach the other side of the screen when reading one-handed.

Performance was excellent overall on the Paperwhite. Amazon did not share processor and memory specifications, but this ebook reader is nevertheless plenty powerful. We didn’t experience any lag when turning pages — in fact it felt instantaneous — and we didn’t run into ghosting issues.

Battery life

Battery life on the Kindle Paperwhite is on par with what you’ll find on other ebook readers. Amazon vaguely claims “weeks” from a single charge, which we found to be a little exaggerated, though it ultimately depends on your reading habits. In a period of four days with a total of around six hours of screen on time, the battery hit 23 percent. That’s with cellular and front-lighting on, which depletes the battery quicker.

It can easily last longer on the Wi-Fi only model, or if you don’t use the front-lighting all the time. It also loses very little battery life in standby mode, so you don’t really need to worry about turning the Paperwhite off when it’s not in use.

World’s Biggest Bookstore

Over the past decade, Amazon has managed to amass both the world’s largest bookstore and audio bookstore. From best sellers to self-published titles, you’ll have no problem finding content in its store. And while we’re not fans of a lot of its self-published content, there’s no denying it has the leg up compared to the Kobo Store.

In addition to offering the most ebook and audiobook titles, Amazon has another special feature for Kindle owners. The first is a subscription service called Kindle Unlimited that allows you read an unlimited number of pre-selected books in the Kindle Store for $10 a month. The selection ranges from bestsellers to public domain titles, though you’re not likely to find newly-released books.

Price, availability, and warranty information

The Kindle Paperwhite costs $130, and it’s available now from Amazon.

Amazon offers a one-year warranty on all its hardware. It’s limited to manufacturer defects, so any type of accidents will not be covered. If you’re worried about accidental damage, you may want to pick up Amazon’s two-year protection plan when you order the Kindle Paperwhite.

Our Take

The Kindle Paperwhite isn’t perfect, but an excellent ebook reader for people in the Amazon ecosystem. It’s portable, durable, and allows you to enjoy your favorite books in multiple formats.

Is there a better alternative?

It depends on your needs. If you want an inexpensive, water resistant ebook reader with audiobook support, the Kindle Paperwhite (2018) is your best bet — especially if you’re tied to Amazon’s ecosystem. However, if you just want a ebook reader that will get the job done of letting you read ebooks and not much else, get the base Kindle, which costs $80.

If you want an ebook reader with a blue-light filtering screen, we recommend the excellent Kobo Forma, though it will cost you a good deal more.

How long will it last?

With proper care, the Kindle Paperwhite should easily five or more years. We believe you’ll be more likely to upgrade the Paperwhite than wear it out since ebook reader technology doesn’t change much year over year.

Should you buy it?

Yes. The Kindle Paperwhite has long been one of our favorite ebook readers, and the refresh for 2018 makes it even better. Its new Bluetooth connectivity and water resistance makes it the perfect choice in just about every situation, from commuting to a day at the beach.

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Why Print Books are Much Healthier for Reading Before Bed

First of all, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not against ebooks.

I love them. My brother got me an iPad for Christmas a couple years ago and I’ve really enjoyed filling my ebookshelves ever since.

It’s that immediate gratification. See a book you want, and you can purchase it and start reading it right now.

What’s not to like?

But then I did some extensive research on an article I recently wrote for a client, and realized that my habit of including my iPad in my stack of paperback and hardcovers that I read before bed was not a good idea.

Why?

It’s bad for you—and it has nothing to do with being old school or new school or anything in between.

It has nothing to do with literature at all, and everything to do with your health.

Ebooks Expose You to Something Potentially Dangerous

You’ve probably heard that shift work isn’t good for you. You may have thought it had something to do with lack of sleep, interrupting sleep patterns, or just throwing off the body’s schedule in general. If so, you were right—but you may have missed one key factor.

Light.

There were a few studies beginning at the turn of the century that raised some concerns. In 2001, researchers followed just over 800 participants who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 1992 and 1995, and compared them with about the same number of controls who were not. Those who worked the graveyard shift were more at risk for breast cancer, but not necessarily for the reasons you may expect.

It had something to do with sleep, but not necessarily whether participants were getting enough (though that was related). Instead, it was all about the amount of light they were exposed to prior to and during sleep, and how that affected levels of a certain hormone called “melatonin.”

Risk was highest among those who didn’t sleep at night when levels of melatonin—the hormone that regulates sleep—is naturally at its highest. Those with the brightest bedrooms were also more vulnerable to the disease.

Researchers concluded exposure to light at night suppresses the production of melatonin, which can cause many problems—including the release of extra estrogen into the system (estrogen has been linked with risk of breast cancer).

Another study published that same year found similar results, with woman working rotating shifts at least three nights a month suffering an increased risk of breast cancer.

What Does it Have to Do With Light?

Scientists were onto something. In 2005, Cancer Research published the results of an animal study showing that artificial light stimulated the growth of human breast tumors by suppressing levels of melatonin. Increased periods of nighttime darkness, on the other hand, slowed the growth of these tumors.

You may have heard that melatonin helps you sleep. Turns out that artificial light not only reduces melatonin levels, but the reduction does more than mess with sleep—it can also disrupt other processes in the body, allowing cancer cells to take hold.

“Evidence is emerging that disruption of one’s circadian clock is associated with cancer in humans,” said lead researcher David Blask, M.D., Ph.D, “and that interference with internal timekeeping can tip the balance in favor of tumor development.”

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is important for a number of things, but its main job is to regulate the body clock, or circadian rhythm. This is the clock that tells us when to wake up and when we’re tired and need to go to bed. When the sun comes up, production of melatonin naturally drops. When the sun goes down, the body produces more.

Everything’s fine as long as we go along with the natural day/night cycles we’ve evolved with. Artificial light, however, allows us to go against those natural cycles. We can get up at 2:00 in the morning and work, for example, and go to bed at ten o’clock the next morning if we want to. We may even get used to that schedule, but according to studies, it’s not good for us.

That’s because the exposure to lights—even artificial lights—tells the body to produce less melatonin, throwing our natural cycles out of whack.

Disrupt your natural cycle and beware the consequences.

Over time, reduced production of melatonin can harm other parts of your system. Scientists believe the hormone is involved in a woman’s menstrual cycle, that it has antioxidant effects—helping us to avoid diseases like heart disease and diabetes—and that it strengthens the immune system.

Take all that away, and you become more vulnerable to health problems.

Too Much Light Linked with Other Diseases

As researchers continued to study exposure to light at night and risk of disease, they found even more evidence to suggest all these lights aren’t good for us.

  • Obesity: In 2010, researchers found that the disruption of circadian rhythms, a lack of adequate sleep, and the suppression of melatonin aggravated weight gain, and were potential contributors to our current obesity epidemic.
  • Diabetes: In 2011, researchers found that exposure to electrical light between dusk and bedtime strongly affected melatonin levels, which in turn, could affect the body’s ability to regulate temperature, blood pressure, and glucose levels. Participants who left lights on during sleep had melatonin levels suppressed by greater than 50 percent.
  • Depression: In 2013, researchers reported that animals exposed to artificial light at night displayed symptoms of depression, and that these symptoms were reversed when the light was removed.
  • Cancer: In addition to the shift work studies above, other research found women with breast cancer had lower levels of melatonin than women without breast cancer, and that melatonin supplements may help support the effects of chemotherapy on breast cancer. Studies have also found that men with prostate cancer also have lower levels of melatonin than men without the disease.
  • More: In March 2015, researchers published another study suggesting our modern habits of having the lights on at all hours of the day and night could be putting us at risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and other health issues. They noted we’re not getting enough natural light during the day, and too much artificial light at night.

We’re Suffering from “Light Pollution”

Our exposure to artificial light has become so concerning scientists are now calling it a genuine health risk.

In 2012, the American Medical Association officially recognized light exposure as concerning for public health, and voted to look into changes in lighting technologies, and to encourage additional studies on the link between light at night and many of our most serious modern-day health challenges.

A few years earlier, in 2009, the journal Environmental Heath Perspectives published an article on the “effects of light pollution,” noting that “two-thirds of the U.S. population and more than one-half of the European population have already lost the ability to see the Milky Way with the naked eye.”

They went on to review the light-health connection, and referred to two Israel studies linking light pollution with cancer:

“Stevens was part of a study team that used satellite photos to gauge the level of nighttime artificial light in 147 communities in Israel, then overlaid the photos with a map detailing the distribution of breast cancer cases. The results showed a statistically significant correlation between outdoor artificial light at night and breast cancer, even when controlling for population density, affluence, and air pollution. Women living in neighborhoods where it was bright enough to read a book outside at midnight had a 73% higher risk of developing breast cancer than those residing in areas with the least outdoor artificial lighting.”

What does all this have to do with ebooks?

Well, all of our gadgets tend to emit light—blue light, in particular.

Blue Light Particularly Dangerous

Computers, smart phones, and yes, tablets, emit blue light—which of all the colors in the spectrum, suppresses melatonin the most.

In 2009, researchers found that participants who wore blue-blocking glasses for three hours before bed slept better than those who wore yellow-tinted glasses that blocked ultraviolet light only.

Three years earlier, scientists also discovered the circadian clock is most sensitive to blue light (which comes in short wavelengths). In 2013, researchers reported that self-luminating displays (like those in tablets and cell phones) “emit optical radiation at short wavelengths, close to the peak sensitivity of melatonin suppression.”

A year before, they found that a two-hour exposure to electronic devices caused melatonin suppression by about 22 percent.

As for ebooks? In 2015, researchers compared the effects of reading a regular book with those of reading an electronic book in the hours before bedtime.

Participants using the e-reader (iPad):

  • took longer to fall asleep,
  • had reduced evening sleepiness,
  • secreted less melatonin,
  • experienced circadian rhythm disruptions,
  • and were more likely to be sleepy the next morning than those who read a regular, printed book.

Lead researcher Prof Charles Czeisler, told the BBC News website:

“The light emitted by most e-readers is shining directly into the eyes of the reader, whereas from a printed book or the original Kindle, the reader is only exposed to reflected light from the pages of the book.”

Read a Regular Book Instead

My solution to all this?

Save the ebooks for daytime reading, and choose a print book at night before bed.

A regular book read under an old-fashioned soft light (new LED lights also emit more blue light) is just the type of quiet nighttime activity that doctors recommend to improve sleep.

If you’re traveling and all you have is your tablet, try the following tips to reduce the damage, but realize that you may be affecting your sleep and your melatonin levels. Might be better to take along that light paperback!

  1. Try a blue light filter: Since blue light has the greatest affect on melatonin, try a blue-light filter. There are several out there that you can download and install into your tablet. Google has one here.
  2. Try f.lux: This application adjusts the brightness on your display depending on the time of day and the volume of ambient light in your room, making adjustments at night to help reduce eye-strain. F.lux is available for your computer and your iPhone/iPad. For Android devices, try “twilight.”
  3. Adjust the brightness: Use your brightness slide to dim the light when you’re reading at night. If you’re reading on a smart phone, you may need to download an app to be able to adjust the brightness of your screen.
  4. Use a standard Kindle: The standard Kindle’s display is closer to reading print than other displays. Researchers noted in the 2015 study mentioned above that the standard Kindle (and any other e-ink e-readers that don’t use light) would prove an exception to their findings. Front-lit e-readers like the Kindle Paperwhite and the Nook GlowLight do use small LED lights around the screen to cast a glow. These may be less damaging to melatonin production than bright iPads, for instance, but we have no studies on these yet to be sure. (And as mentioned, LEDs emit more blue light than incandescent bulbs.) You can dim the brightness on these, and other tablets like the Kindle Fire.
  5. Keep other lights low: The good thing about reading a print book under a soft light in an otherwise dark room is that it signals your body to ramp up production because the overall light in the room is low. You may be able to accomplish nearly the same effect by turning off all other lights in the room, and either reading your standard Kindle with a soft light or reading your other e-reader with f.lux installed or at the very least, at a reduced brightness level.
  6. Use blue-blocking glasses: Hey, now you have a reason to wear your sunglasses at night. Amber-lens or “blue-blocking” sunglasses can protect you from the blue light your device emits, reducing the effect on melatonin. If you’re somewhere you can’t control your exposure to lights, they can also help your body wind down at night. There are many brands out there—Uvex and Solar Shield are examples.
  7. Use a candle: I wouldn’t recommend a real one, as that could be a fire danger if you fall asleep while reading. You can, however, use battery-operated “flameless” candles to read by. They emit little blue light and cast a soft glow that will help your body ramp up melatonin and get ready to sleep. I would advise against those that emit scent, as usually they work with chemicals that aren’t good for you.

Do you read using bright tablets at night? Please share your thoughts.

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, “New Research Shows Artificial Light at Night Stimulates Breast Cancer Growth in Laboratory Mice,” National Institutes of Health, December 19, 2005, http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/dec2005/niehs-19.htm.

“Melatonin,” University of Maryland Medical Center, https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/melatonin.

Rebekah Mullaney, “Light from Self-Luminous Tablet Computers can Affect Evening Melatonin, Delaying Sleep,” Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute, August 27, 2012, http://news.rpi.edu/luwakkey/3074.

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  • ASK DAVE TAYLOR

    My phone can filter out blue light at night. My computer can too. But can my Kindle Fire HD?

    It’s very cool how the research showing that blue frequency light messes with your sleep rhythms has made it into so many different devices and screens. From phones to laptops, Windows to Android, make a few changes to your settings and preferences and you can work on screens late in the evening and get to sleep before 3am too!

    On the Mac and on your iPhone, for example, the devices include a feature called Night Shift. On Windows it’s called Night Light. On Android you’ll find the feature’s called Night Mode. Whatever you call it, however, the good news is that there’s a similar feature on your Kindle Fire HD – and on any Kindle that has a color screen. In this instance, Amazon’s called it “Blue Shade”. Really!

    Let’s have a look as it’s really easy to enable. Crazy easy, actually.

    Start by unlocking your Kindle Fire HD and simply dragging from the top of the screen with your finger to bring down the shortcut menu. It’ll look like this:

    Now that you know the feature’s called Blue Shade, you can probably spot it on the shortcut menu. it’s third from the left on the first row of icons. Take a deep breath, then tap on it.

    Your screen goes, well, a bit weird!

    That’s Blue Shade at work, and by default it’s pretty radical, the maximum possible color shift. Probably too darn much, actually.

    Fortunately you can tweak and adjust things to match your needs and just how much “shift” you can stand.

    To do that, tap on the alert on the bottom of the pull-down. It says “Blue Shade – On” and actually also says “Tap for advanced settings”.

    Use your finger to drag and check out the different Brightness and Color options. There’s quite a bit you can do to make it a bit less radical, but remember that how it looks in the middle of day isn’t indicative of how you’ll see it at 11pm while reading in bed.

    The more interesting feature is the scheduler. Enable “Automatic Activation” by tapping on the on/off slider control and you’ll find you can enable an on and off time. This will also turn off Blue Shade if it’s not within that time frame:

    Starting at 8pm and turning off at 6am sounds good to me, so I’ll leave the default.

    Now, back to my ebook!

    Let’s Stay In Touch!

     amazon kindle fire, blue light, blue shade, blue shift, kindle fire hd, night light, night mode

    3 Ways to Use Tech at Night—and Still Sleep Soundly

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    By now, you might have heard (and heard… and heard) that using electronics before bed isn’t exactly conducive to a good night’s sleep. The culprit: the blue light given off by these devices’ screens, which tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime, and shuts down the body’s sleep systems.

    The latest study, which was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that it takes people who read on iPads before bed 10 minutes longer than those who prefer print books to drift off; the e-readers also had less rapid-eye movements at night, an indicatory of sleep quality. (Another issue? Sleep texting. Are You Textually Active?)

    The study participants read for four hours each night, which is a bit much for even the biggest bookworms among us. (Though when you think about the time you spent at night in front of some screen-watching TV, texting, online shopping-it’s not that big of a stretch.) But numerous other studies have shown that even smaller doses of blue light from electronics can keep you awake. And while forgoing digital devices before bed is probably the best way to ensure an uninterrupted night’s sleep, it’s not the only way. These three tips can also help.

    Consider a Kindle

    In the research above, the study authors investigated multiple tablets and e-readers, including the iPad, iPhone, Nook Color, Kindle, and Kindle Fire. Most emitted similar amounts of light-except the Kindle e-reader. It only reflects ambient light, which isn’t as harmful to sleep as the emitted light from the other devices. (Electronics aren’t the only sleep sappers. Here are several other Reasons You Can’t Sleep.)

    Keep Literature At Arm’s Length

    Many of the studies on electronics’ effect on sleep look at tablets set to their maximum brightness. But if you dim the screen to the lowest setting and hold the device as far away from your face as possible (14 inches or more, according to research presented at SLEEP 2013), you’ll drastically reduce the amount of light that actually reaches your eye, protecting your slumber.

    Block the Blue

    Apps like f.lux (free; justgetflux.com) and Twilight (free; play.google.com) automatically begin dimming your electronics’ screens at sunset to minimize the amount of blue light you see at night. Or try a blue light-blocking screen protector, like SleepShield, for cell phones, tablets, and laptops (from $20; sleepshield.com), or glasses, like BluBlocker (from $30; blublocker.com). (Still awake? Learn How to Give Your Bedroom a Better-Sleep Makeover.)

    • By Mirel Ketchiff

    Amazon has unveiled a new version of its Kindle Oasis that lets you adjust the tone of the light from cool to warm making it even better when reading at night.

    Switching to warmer tones of light reduces the amount of blue light emitted by the e-reader which can hamper your sleep. Even better, you can schedule the screen warmth to adjust automatically with sunrise and sunset.

    We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.

    Amazon

    PRE-ORDER

    Amazon all-new Kindle Oasis, £229.99

    This latest e-reader in the Oasis range retains the same compact and light square design along with a 7-inch screen and the ability to turn pages when reading (either by tapping the screen or by using the buttons on the side). It’s waterproof too, and can survive in two meters of fresh water for up to 60 minutes. Ideal if you read in the bath, hot tub or even the pool.

    And you still get all the handy features found on other Kindles, including Bluetooth, so you can listen to your favourite Audible books either via headphones or a speaker, and Whispersync saves your last page read, bookmarks, and annotations across all of your Kindle devices and apps. This means you can pick up where you left off, no matter what device you’re using.

    Related Story

    It comes with 8GB of storage space for £229.99. Alternatively, you can increase the storage space to 32GB, and this will set you back £259.99. There’s also a 32GB version that come with a 3G connection, so you can download books even when you don’t have wi-fi for £319.99.

    We think any reduction in blue light is great for those who use their Kindle at night. We’ll be bringing you a full review of the e-reader soon.

    The all-new Amazon Kindle Oasis is available to pre-order today and will start shipping on July 24.

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    A new study has claimed that light-emitting e-readers “negatively affect sleep, circadian timing and next-morning alertness” when used in the evening. However, those reading the resulting coverage should look into the details before worrying too much.

    The study was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), leading to scary headlines such as: “E-readers ‘damage sleep and health,’ doctors warn” (BBC); “Keep That E-Reader Out of Bed and You’ll Feel Better in the Morning” (Pacific Standard); and “Before Bed, Switch Off The E-Reader And Pick Up A Paperback” (Fast Company).

    The key problem with this study and the more alarmist stories that followed, is that when it says “e-reader”, it means “Apple iPad”. An iPad at full brightness, no less. When I hear “e-reader”, I tend to think “dedicated e-reader” – an e-ink device without a backlit screen — rather than a multi-purpose tablet. And there’s a big difference.

    The screens of devices such as tablets and smartphones have long been known to emit short-wavelength light, also known as blue light. All light can suppress the secretion of melatonin – the hormone that controls our day-night cycles – in the evening and night-time, but blue light has a particularly pronounced effect and previous studies have shown that it’s best avoided at night.

    The new study, conducted on a small group of 12 participants, adds to these earlier studies by comparing the effects of a light-emitting “e-book” (iPad) with those of a paper book. The researchers found printed books were definitely safer, writing:

    The use of light-emitting electronic devices for reading, communication, and entertainment has greatly increased recently. We found that the use of these devices before bedtime prolongs the time it takes to fall asleep, delays the circadian clock, suppresses levels of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, reduces the amount and delays the timing of REM sleep, and reduces alertness the following morning. Use of light-emitting devices immediately before bedtime also increases alertness at that time, which may lead users to delay bedtime at home. Overall, we found that the use of portable light-emitting devices immediately before bedtime has biological effects that may perpetuate sleep deficiency and disrupt circadian rhythms, both of which can have adverse impacts on performance, health, and safety.

    These effects could be serious. As the researchers note, recent evidence has linked chronic suppression of melatonin secretion by nocturnal light exposure with “the increased risk of breast, colorectal, and advanced prostate cancer associated with night-shift work… which has now been classified as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization.”

    But again, there’s a huge difference between an iPad and an e-ink reader such as those in the Amazon Kindle, Kobo or Barnes & Noble Nook ranges. The study does not once mention e-ink e-readers. The iPad was also “set to maximum brightness throughout the four-hour reading session, whereas, by comparison, the print-book condition consisted of reflected exposure to very dim light.”

    Charles Czeisler, director of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, who co-authored the study, told the Washington Post that the “standard Kindle” would provide an exception to the study’s findings as it does not emit light and was more like reading a paper book. A Vox interview with lead author Anne-Marie Chang suggests that the research was conducted between 2010 and 2011, when even the original, non-illuminated Kindle was pretty new and paper books made a better point of comparison.

    There has been no mention at all of e-ink readers that are not backlit but that are illuminated, such as the Kindle Paperwhite or Nook GlowLight — which is not surprising as these devices were only introduced in 2012. Rather than lighting the screen from behind, illuminated e-ink e-readers are “front-lit” and use small LEDs around the screen, pointing inward rather than outward, to cast a glow over it (the Paperwhite channels this through “light guides” to illuminate evenly). This is more like looking at an earlier Kindle in a lit room, than it is like looking at a light shining directly into your eyes.

    What’s more, these devices generally allow users to dim the light – and so do blue-light-tastic backlit tablets, for that matter.

    So in short, yes, you should avoid staring at your smartphone or tablet (or PC or TV) for hours before trying to nod off. And that includes the Kindle Fire, which is after all just a tablet. But let’s give dedicated e-ink e-readers, which are very different devices, the benefit of the doubt until someone proves they also pose a danger.

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