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Monday, 26 January 2015

Jenny Harrison on why you should read REAL books!

I read recently of the damage that can occur while reading in bed. Not the normal holding a book at something like eye level with a bedside lamp of low wattage next to your pillow, but using an ebook in bed. Seems that the light emanating from backlit e-readers affects the body’s circadian rhythms and, as a consequence, it will take you longer to fall asleep resulting in lower morning alertness. All this from researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and they’re the experts.
Apparently it has something to do with blue light or short-wavelength-enriched light from things like phones and iPads which reduces levels of melatonin. And of course, we all know that melatonin has a role to play in inducing sleep.
Melatonin, or more popularly known as N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine, is a hormone found in animals, plants, fungi and bacteria. It is synthesized in animal cells directly from the amino acid tryptophan. Besides its function as synchronizer of the biological clock, melatonin is a powerful free-radical scavenger and wide-spectrum antioxidant as discovered in 1993 (Wikipedia). By reading in bed using an iPad you could be compromising those scavengers!

But you knew that, didn’t you!
So, it isn’t the ghoulishness of the latest Maureen Green book or the hilarious antics of Rusty and Slasher Naills in the Panui series, or the sweet lyricism of Jean Allen’s River books or the nail biting will-he-make-it-home of Bev’s Robitai’s latest Sunstrike novel (all these books are available at letsbuybooks) keeping you awake at night. There’s a much more prosaic and boring reason.
But you knew that too, didn’t you!

Jenny Harrison
(Mairangi Writers' 'Rural Advisor')

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