Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles “You darn kids with your e-pads and your i-books! In my day words were on dead trees and they didn’t keep us up all night!” Calm down angry grandpa I just made up, the right e-reader will still let you get to bed by 6 pm. Hello bibliophiles, Julian here for DNews. You’ve probably seen some stories recently warning you that your e-reader is plotting to give you insomnia and maybe cancer. These articles are stemming from a recent study published December 22nd in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In the study 12 subjects each read books either in paper form or an ipad for 4 hours a night, 5 nights in a row. The next week they would switch to the other format and spend another 5 nights reading for 4 hours before bed. Talk about a great excuse to re-read the Harry Potter series. The study found that those who read on the newfangled ipads took longer to fall asleep, spent less time in REM, and woke up feeling more tired. The hypothesis is the short-wavelength or blue light from the ipad inhibited the release of melatonin in the subjects, and this is all based on solid science. Melatonin is a hormone synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan and it makes you feel sleepy. If you’re American you’re probably familiar with the myth that thanksgiving turkey makes you sleepy because of the tryptophan. Let’s put that rumor to bed right now, because turkey actually has slightly less tryptophan than chicken. Anyway, an enzyme with a really long name I can’t pronounce so we’ll call it AANAT is key for turning tryptophan into melatonin. And as it turns out, AANAT’s gene responds directly to light. Given recent evidence of a link between melatonin suppression and increased risk of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer, the researchers of this study warn that using an e-reader like an ipad before bed could have bigger impacts than grogginess the next day. But before everyone freaks out and sets their kindles on fire, there is an important nuance that David Meyer of Gigaom points out; this study only uses an ipad, at full brightness. It doesn’t examine other e-readers like my ancient kindle that still needs a reading lamp, or newer devices that are front-lit like the Kindle Paperwite or the Nook GlowLight. We don’t know if these other ebooks are better, but it’s not fair to lump them all together because they don’t work the same. The study didn’t dial down the backlight of the ipads either, so it’s possible that dimming them down will allow more melatonin to be released. As we love to say here on DNews, more research is needed. Of course if you notice you’ve been having trouble sleeping after reading off your tablet, maybe try one of the other methods or tone the brightness down a little. If you’re still having trouble, try reading your school’s required books. Those always knocked me right out. Of course an e-book will always be missing something we just love about their paper predecessors; that old book smell. Trace explains why we like that over here. Have you guys had trouble sleeping after using a dedicated ebook? Or have you had trouble retaining information when you didn’t with regular books? Let us know in the comments and I’ll see you next time on DNews.