Objectives: By measuring cerebral blood flow in the prefrontal cortex, we aimed to determine how reading a book on a tablet computer affects sleep.
Methods: Seven students (7 men age range, 21-32 years) participated in this study. In a controlled illuminance environment, the subjects read a novel in printed form or on a tablet computer from any distance. As the subjects were reading, the cerebral blood flow in their prefrontal cortex was measured by near-infrared spectroscopy. The study protocol was as follows. 1) Subjects mentally counted a sequence of numbers for 30 s as a pretest to standardized thinking and then 2) read the novel for 10 min, using the printed book or tablet computer. In step 2), the use of the book or tablet computer was in a random sequence. Subjects rested between the two tasks.
Results: Significantly increased brain activity (increase in regional cerebral blood flow) was observed following reading a novel on a tablet computer compared with that after reading a printed book. Furthermore, the region around Broca's area was more active when reading on a tablet computer than when reading a printed book.
Conclusions: Considering the results of this study and previous studies on physiological characteristics during nonrapid eye movement sleep, we concluded that reading a book on a tablet computer before the onset of sleep leads to the potential inhibition of sound sleep through mechanisms other than the suppression of melatonin secretion.
Keywords: near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS); nonrapid eye movement sleep; novel; prefrontal cortex; tablet computer.