New Studies: E-books Hurt Sleep; Belly Fat Linked to Higher Cardiac Risk

E-readers Upset Body Clocks, Study Says.

Do you like to read before bedtime? Carefully select your reading material. Certain types of electronic books (e-readers) can make it harder for you to fall asleep and stay asleep, according to a new Harvard Medical School sleep study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a journal.

As part of the study, researchers examined how sleep is affected when you read with standard paper books versus reading text on e-readers.

And when it comes to bedtime reading, researchers took a dim view of back-lit e-readers and other electronic gadgets, which can disrupt your sleep patterns.

“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,” the researchers reported.

All participants were studied on different nights after reading  traditional books and after using e-readers. After using e-readers participants experienced:

  • Delayed onset of sleep.
  • Lower levels of melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone.
  • Poorer quality of sleep, with less time spent in health-promoting deep sleep.
  • Reduced alertness the following morning.
  • The research results don’t apply to the original Kindle readers or similar gadgets that don’t give off light. To learn more about electronic devices, sleep and healthy bedtime tips, check out some of the articles below:

  • The Dark Side of Night Light
  • Social Jet Lag & Sleep: Is Your Schedule Harming Your Health?
  • Fall Back to Better Sleep
  • The Link Between Insomnia and Stroke
  • –Sharon Harvey Rosenberg

    ‘Belly Fat’ Tied to Higher Risk for Sudden Cardiac Death

    Previous studies have found that a concentration of belly fat in overweight individuals can contribute to a higher risk for heart disease.

    Now a new study finds that belly fat can carry a higher risk for sudden cardiac arrest, which is the result of an electrical malfunction that causes the heart to beat irregularly. Cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack, which is when blood fails to circulate to the heart. Sudden cardiac arrest accounts for about half of all heart-related deaths.

    In the new study, researchers followed 14,941 men and women, with an average age 54, at the start of the study. Over a period of 13 years, the subjects were tracked as they underwent detailed health examinations about five times over the course of the study. During that time, there were 253 sudden cardiac deaths.

    Those who died suddenly had higher rates of other cardiac risk factors, including obesity, hypertension and high cholesterol, the study found. But those with the highest “waist-to-hip ratio” had more than double the risk of sudden cardiac death compared with those in the normal range. The increased risk was apparent only in nonsmokers.

    “We’re not sure what’s mediating it,” said the lead author, Dr. Selcuk Adabag, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota. “But abdominal obesity is much more inflammatory, much worse than general obesity.”

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers more detailed information on “defining overweight and obesity.”

    Read more on weight, health risk factors and exercise:

  • Myths About Metabolism
  • How Much Exercise Do You Need?
  • New Guidelines for Heart Disease, Stroke Prevention
  • –John Fernandez

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