My eReader Solution to Migraines

POSTED ON January 2, 2018 BY Austine IN Discussion

When I was a kid, I used to get migraines all the time. It wasn’t as bad as it is now but, then again, I didn’t get my first laptop until junior year of high school and my first smartphone in college. Now, being heavily involved online in the book community as well as using eReaders a lot, the migraines just keep on coming and sometimes I have to take several days disconnected from technology to get them to go away.

Which is a problem because I review a lot of eARCs. How about y’all?

Do you read a lot of eBooks (ARCs or otherwise)?

I LOVE eBooks. I can fit my Kindle in my purse and take hundreds of books with me wherever I go. If I’m not into what I’m reading, I can easily switch to something new.

But those eReaders still gave me migraines. I started with a first generation Nook, switched to a Kindle Fire, bought a Nook HD for all those ePUB books that my Kindle didn’t like, and had problems with it all. (Okay, not so much the first gen Nook but I gave that to my grandmother to use once I switched to the Kindle Fire so it really wasn’t an option.)

I researched the best eReader for people susceptible to migraines and a lot of fingers pointed to the Kindle Paperwhite. 

Disclaimer: Please note that the rest of this post contains Amazon affiliate links and I receive a small commission for any purchases made through those links. This does not impact my opinion of the product that I purchased prior to becoming an affiliate.

Earlier this year, I decided to give the Kindle Paperwhite a try. I was definitely skeptical. How can one eReader be that effective at decreasing the chances of a migraine or headache? You’re still staring at a screen, right?

Plus they’re not cheap. Grad student budget here. I don’t really have the money to throw around on yet another eReader and have it not work out like the last ones. 

I waited around and it turns out they were having a deal on Kindles (among other things) for the Amazon Prime Day sales. I have no idea when these happen each year, if they happen multiple times or just once annually, but I was taking FULL advantage. I bought the Paperwhite. I waited. And when it arrived, I gave it a go.

For a month, I read on my new Kindle in bright light and no light. Out under the glaring sun, in dimly lit restaurants, and everything in between.

No migraines.

Granted, I wouldn’t read anything if I had one brewing before I started reading because that would be silly but this was great! I could read late into the night without keeping the animals up (and making them restless) and not burning my eyes. And the Paperwhite is SO MUCH SIMPLER compared to my other eReaders, it’s lovely.

Before I continue, I just want to clarify again that I did not receive any products for review for this post. I’m just a reader who’s very happy with their purchase and wanted to share with y’all in case any of you have the same problem.

Also all these disclaimers are to comply with FTC guidelines, y’all. I don’t want to trick you here with anything I share. This is not a paid promotion for the Kindle Paperwhite.

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So what’s so great about the Kindle Paperwhite?

I honestly thought I wasn’t going to like the device, that it would be like my other ones and would ultimately be a waste of money (I mean I had SOME hope or I wouldn’t have bought it but there was a lot of doubt too). But I ended up liking it more than any eReader I had before!

Long battery life.

I think I charge my Kindle once a week? Maybe? Probably closer to every 2-3 weeks if I’m being honest. Depends on how much I’m reading on it and at what time of day (since that determines the strength of the backlight)

Did I mention it has a backlight?!

So the Paperwhite has an e-ink screen and I couldn’t tell you the actual tech talk behind that but basically it looks like you’re reading a normal piece of paper. Well paper doesn’t glow. You can’t read a regular book in the dark. . . but you can on this. I’m a big night reader and having all the lights on keeps my dogs up which doesn’t bode well for me when I try to go to sleep. This way I don’t disturb them and I can keep reading.

Distraction-Free.

I am TERRIBLE about getting on my phone while reading, checking social media and all that. I could do it straight from my Kindle Fire too which was REALLY bad because I’d flip between my apps and my book. Can’t do that on this device. It’s just about the books. That’s it.

It’s lovely.

No-glare touch screen.

You can read outside!! No need to find the perfect angle to sit at and hold your eReader so you can see it on a sunny day. Or if you’re reading in a building with obnoxious fluorescent lights, you’re still good to go!

And for anyone who has used something like the first gen Nook, you’ll find that this device is a full touch screen instead of requiring the use of a smaller screen or buttons.

Almost pocket size

Not QUITE that small but the Paperwhite is pretty tiny. Don’t worry, you can adjust the font size if you were concerned about not being able to read the text. But its size means it fits in most bags, purses, etc.

I’m a no-frills kind of person. I have the smallest purse I could find cheap to hold the essentials (you know, wallet, maybe some chapstick, a set of headphones). The Paperwhite is about the size of a mass market book. It fits right in and is super slim/lightweight.

Reviewing eARCs? Send them to your device!

If you review eARCs (or like requesting eBooks from your library), it’s really easy to send them to your Kindle without any extra hassle of connecting a device, moving stuff around, disconnecting it, and so on. I know both NetGalley and Edelweiss have it set up in their systems to add your device using your Kindle email (which you can customize) to make things easier.

No migraines

That’s the big one. I have never gotten a migraine, or even a headache, from using my Paperwhite. Like ever. It’s been months and NOTHING. I’ve gotten them from staring at my computer screen too long, or just because they decide to pop up and “surprise” me, but never from reading on my Kindle.

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Buying the Kindle Paperwhite was the best decision I made for my personal health and reading habits. It may not be for everyone and there’s a lot to consider when deciding on an eReader. I just wanted to share my experience and success with this particular Kindle. What people are saying, at least in regards to the decrease in headaches/migraines, is true 🙂

(And not gonna lie, I love the cover I found for it too. Because, you know, that’s TOTALLY important when buying electronics. . . lol)

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Do you use an eReader? What do you love about it?


Austine
About Austine

Well hello there! I see you've reached the end of the post. Bummer. But perhaps I may interest you in a comment? And in case you were wondering, I'm a 20-something college grad with a piece of paper that says I know about wildlife. Reviewer of books since 2011, amateur photographer by day, and aspiring author by night. I believe animals (and books) are better than people.


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63 responses to “My eReader Solution to Migraines

  1. I think you may have convinced me! I’ve never upgraded my original Kindle because I’ve been afraid of migraine issues with backlit screens. But this sounds perfect. I’m gonna have to keep an eye out for those Prime days…

    • It also tends to go on sale for Black Friday and I think they do other promotions throughout the year (Amazon has a ton of email listservs that you might be able to get on to get notices of Kindle deals). It’s been my favorite purchase of 2017!

  2. I don’t have a Paperwhite, but my (now-venerable) Kindle Touch got me through a migraine cluster a few years ago when my phone was enough to set me off. I still keep the brightness of my laptop / phone screen turned down enough to confuse anyone who tries to read my devices over my shoulder!

    …but the downside of the Touch (apart from being ancient tech now 😉 is that it has no back lighting so you still need a light on to read at night. It’s the one thing that makes me consider upgrading to a Paperwhite, although now the migraines are under control I’m back to doing a lot of my reading on my phone – the Night Shift setting has been an absolute godsend.

    • The backlight was my main reason for going with the Paperwhite rather than something else but if you don’t need it, it’s not worth buying!

      My Fire has the blue shade thing that I tried for night reading (and my phone has a similar setting) but both don’t work for me. I think I’m just prone to headaches lol. Struggles.

      Glad you’ve found what works for you!!

      • I’m glad to hear the Paperwhite backlight doesn’t set you off – it makes me feel much more confident about upgrading 🙂

        • I was surprised it didn’t! It was why I wanted to go with the Paperwhite over a basic e-ink reader but I was a bit concerned too. Thankfully it’s great and has a wide range of adjustments to suit wherever you’re reading!

  3. I don’t have an ereader anymore, but I occasionally read books on my phone… I’m still looking into getting a new ereader, possibly a Kobo or a Kindle, but from what you’ve said in this post, I’m going to check out the Paperwhite!

    • Depending on your eReader needs, I can definitely recommend the Paperwhite over the Fire from my own experience. Haven’t used a Kobo though so not sure how they compare. I got a Kindle since I do most of my eBook shopping through Amazon but it depends on your personal preferences and what you’re looking for 🙂

  4. Jessica @ Strung out on Books

    I have the Kindle Fire 7 or something (it’s a few years old), and I’ve been thinking about getting the paperwhite for awhile! I get headaches pretty often from using my devices too much, especially for reading. The paperwhite is just so expensive! It does seem worth it, though! Maybe I’ll save up for it! Thanks for sharing your experience!

    • I think that’s what my Fire is too (the 7). I’ve had it for a bit.

      I contemplated switching for a while but yeah, the cost was a pretty big reason to NOT buy it. I’m not sure if I would have paid full price for the Paperwhite before using it (now having had it for a few months I definitely would, but I didn’t know that then). Amazon has deals fairly often, though, so if you’re considering it I’d recommend watching for those especially if you’re not in a rush!

      • Jessica @ Strung out on Books

        I’ll probably do that! I saw when they had the last deal, but I spent too long considering it. Thanks!

  5. I use a Kobo H2O (which also has a glare-free e-ink display with adjustable backlight) and having a book I can read without turning lights on has been a lifesaver!

    I chose it over the Paperwhite because Kindle doesn’t play nice with libraries outside of the USA and because
    it’s waterproof. Being able to read in the shower is amazing.

    • That makes total sense! I never used Kobo before and being in the US (and a frequent Amazon shopper lol) the Kindle made sense for me, but it all depends on your needs! I’m glad you found something that works for you and OMG IT’S WATERPROOF?!?!

      If I could read in the shower I don’t think I’d ever get out XD

  6. Hallo Austine,

    I actually found your blog a bit prior to #Commenting365, however, the main reasons I was commenting less over the past several years is due to an increase in my chronic migraines. I’ve been sorting out how to curb their higher frequency for most of the years I’ve been a book blogger; I’m about to enter my 5th Year come March ’18 and I think I have it solved. For me, reading digitally wasn’t an option because my specific issues are stemming out of being on digital screens – my main computer has a matte (non-reflective) screen but evenso, I have to limit how oft I’m using it. I do use a new setting on the document programme I use which adds a green background layer, which strange as that sounds, helps loads for note taking or letter writing.

    For me personally, what helps the most is off-setting my print readings with listening to audiobooks – whilst remembering to take healthy breaks from the computer overall. As book bloggers and tweeters (and/or however we each choose to socially engage online) we can overdo the joy quite quickly! 🙂 For me, I noticed when I’m colouring whilst listening to audiobooks the stories come ‘alive’ to me visually far easier than if I’m just listening to them. I also knit as I listen to audiobooks but my main preference is to colour as I can easily stop colouring, hit pause and type my thoughts/reactions as I’m listening. I started this in 2016 and until early Winter, my migraines were curbed.

    Of course, migraines are triggered by different things, so despite sorting out my reading habits and online usage being part of the issue – there are other factions out of my control which led to a higher level of frequency affecting me this last half of 2017. *le sigh*

    I wanted to say – for those who can use Paperwhite e-readers or others – I think that’s brilliant. I think we all need to sort out what works best for our personal situations and also, as migraines affect us differently, stay intuitive to what is triggering them. I’m contemplating learning braille – as I notice when I use different modes of interpreting stories (from audiobooks to film adaptations) I notice not only are my eyes less exhausted but my mind isn’t as oft to be fall victim to the migraines either. Sometimes I think part of my issues are stemming from intellectual fatigue. Meaning – reading is a beautiful gift but sometimes I think if we don’t take time away from it or find other ways to connect to stories – we might run a risk to our health if we have a tendency of course to have an adverse effect like migraines. Just my two pence.

    I do mention the Paperwhite to those who have migraines who don’t have my issues – as your in a growing group of migraine sufferers who are finding a positive respite. I think that’s awesome! 🙂

    • Oh WOW that’s a lot of great info! I wish I could get into audiobooks. There are so many times throughout the day that they would fit in perfectly. I’m so glad you’ve figured out what works for you and I love the idea of coloring while listening to a book!!

      • I don’t oft discuss this as generally the train of thought is everyone suffers from the same kind of migraine so ereaders would work for everyone – however, I read your post several times and saw you were more open about the topic which is what inspired me to respond. 🙂

        I’ll admit – when I first started listening to audiobooks – I was at a proper loss – how to tuck into the narrative and fuse myself to the characters. I’ve very ADHD even if I was never given the label – plus, I didn’t have headphones initially so I had a lot of distractive ambient noises — when I found the right pair of headphones (ie. I was so bold, I asked a bloke at Starbucks about his brand because I saw he could ‘zone’ out even in a busy cafe like that and I thought – now that’s the pair I need! lol) I still struggled though — I had some colouring books and something just ‘clicked’. I decided to try it out – the theory being, sometimes you have to ‘distract your head’ from ‘thinking’ and allow yourself to just ‘listen’ on an absorption level. Similarly I listen to music whilst I blog and/or write blog comments. Helps me focus better.

        The more I colour, the more I am directly INSIDE the audiobook – meaning, I don’t even notice what I’m colouring after awhile – the artwork I create is as curiously surprising as the story which unfolded! 🙂 I am going to be blogging more about this in January as I have some colouring book reviews upcoming…

        If you try it, let me know if worked for you!? It’s a trip — once you ‘sync’ in like this, it’s like your the character whose voice in your head and it’s YOUR life your living… in this new way of experiencing it. A bit like virtual reality but the portal is your own imagination!?

        • I’m glad the post came off as open because I don’t want it to sound like this particular eReader is the ONLY option, just the one that worked for me and there are plenty of other things out there. We’re all readers but we’re also individuals and what works for one doesn’t always work for another which I think is important to think about.

          TBH, I’m not sure I’ll ever really get into audiobooks (I simply don’t like being read to, just a personal thing) but I do the same as you with blogging/commenting. I have a few playlists that I can zone out to, some noise-cancelling headphones, and I’m good to go. I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for your coloring book reviews too! Interested to see what you have to say 🙂

  7. I’m glad that the Kindle ereader works so well for your migraines! Having something medical get in the way of something you love is beyond frustrating.

    We started off on the same digital reading foot: 1st generation Nook (terrible compared to today’s options!), then Nook Tablet, then I got an iPad Mini (which I love, but prefer not to read on), followed by a very basic, older generation Kindle (pre-paperwhite), and despite all that effort (and $$$), I still didn’t feel I’d ever get into e-books. Then I did a crazy thing and bought a Kindle Voyage, and my reading world turned upside down. Then I got an Oasis and seriously…80% of my reads in 2017 were digital. (And no, I’m not rich, I just have a birthday close to Christmas, and a husband in IT who is fine doing a two-holiday gift if I ask).

    Kindle ereaders (not tablets) are the bomb. 🙂

    • Love it! I looked at both the Voyage and Oasis but they were out of my price range and right now but maybe down the road. . . Lol

  8. I love my Kindle paperwhite too.
    One of the reasons it’s so good to read on is that technically it’s not a backlight. There are little LEDs somewhere. That’s why it’s so different from reading on a tablet and how the batteries can last so amazingly long.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’m glad it’s working for you.

    • I didn’t know that, thanks for sharing! Now if they could get that same tech in color for phones. . . (I’d never get to sleep lol)

  9. I want to hug you! I got my Kindle Paperwhite earlier in 2017 and love it so much! As you said, it’s so simple to use and the backlit screens are perfect for me since I have astigmatism. It’s also easier to maintain than books hahaha plus I can easily get new books without having to wait for like 10 to 20 days!

  10. This is a great discussion! I have the Kindle Fire and use my phone a lot. I tend to turn on (or is it off?) the blue light filter thing and that helps. I also turn text background to black when in the dark and have noticed that is less strain on my eyes.

    So glad you found something that works for you, though 🙂

    • I’ve used the blue shade feature too, both on my phone and Kindle Fire. It’s a great solution if you don’t want to get a new device but are having trouble with eye strain.

  11. I recently got a Paperwhite after much deliberation, and I’m so glad I made the splurge. Its made reading ebooks so much more enjoyable. I used to dread reading ebooks because I had to read them on my phone (which has a cracked screen to boot), but now I love them so much more and I also get through them faster which is a nice added bonus.

  12. Glad you found a solution to your migraines. I have a kindle touch and I alternate reading on this with paperbacks. It works for me, but the back-light option on the paperwhite sounds like a great added bonus.

    • I alternate too! And yeah, the backlight makes night reading much easier, it’s not as harsh on my eyes compared to having an overhead light on to read a paperback.

  13. I have been using Kindle Paperwhite since 2015 and have loved it since day one! My mom has always been against reading books in low light, but I used to read before bed. This led to a few arguments and my Kindle came to my rescue.

    The main reason I made that purchase was because of the backlight. Reading on it feels like reading a book but with a light behind the pages. I fell in love with ebooks because of the Kindle. I can’t imagine my life without it anymore.

    • I was the same way! I’d always get in trouble for reading by flashlight when I was a kid lol. And yes, that backlight makes a huge difference!

  14. I bought a Paperwhite over 3 years ago, but last year it stopped charging, and I couldn’t get it to work anymore. Boo. I might have to invest in a new Paperwhite, because I get migraines as well, and reading on the computer/phone is awful most days, especially after working on the computer all day at work.

  15. I’ve been considering the Paperwhite for a while, for exactly the same reason. My only problem (apart from the price, eek!) is that I don’t think it supports the Overdrive app for library eBooks. Do you happen to know if that’s true?

    • Hmm I want to say it doesn’t? Because there aren’t any apps on it, it’s just the books you download/send to your Kindle. Now I will say that my library uses Overdrive and I’m able to send the books I request to my Kindle without having to use the Overdrive app (I don’t think I’ve actually EVER used the app now that I think about it) but not sure if that would work for you or not.

      • I don’t recall having seen that as an option… and having read some of the other comments, it may be because I’m not in the US. I’ll have to check.

        • Yeah I’m not sure the differences by country are. My library has it set up on a website that uses Overdrive and I can request either online or on the app, and then if I select the .mobi version I can send it to my Kindle.

  16. TinyNavajo

    I have an iPad now actually, but I was exclusively Nook before that. Unfortunately, my Nook was dying a slow and sad death, which is why I have the iPad as Apple products don’t seem to die as fast, to me, and I can have both my Nook and Kindle apps on it as well as use iBooks for the few eArcs I get that aren’t compatible with either.

    I’m glad that you no longer get migraines and have found an e-reader that works for you!

    • That’s awesome that you can get them all on one device! My mom uses a tablet to similar effect and I considered going that route but the screens and my eyes don’t like each other lol.

  17. I have a Kindle Paperwhite myself. While I still prefer hardcopies, I will say the Kindle comes in handy. Like you’ve mentioned, it lets you send files to the device and it’s glare-free. The glare part is actually one of my biggest complaints about reading from a screen. I didn’t really take note of this in the beginning, but as I continued to use the computer and other devices more (for work and entertainment), I did / still do get migraines from time to time. And yea, it was a huge bummer. At first I didn’t realise why I was getting these migraines and got really scare. I try to limit my use of computer and phone these days. Anyways, I find the Kindle Paperwhite does come in good use, if you’re reading for pleasure, and I would recommend it to people who are on the lookout for an ereader.

    • Oh I love physical copies too. My shelves are overflowing with them lol.

      I don’t read much outside but I like having the option to because of the lack of glare. I started noticing it on the bus ride into work, the sun always shines in at the wrong angle to read on my phone screen but isn’t a problem with the Paperwhite.

      Glad you enjoy using yours too!

  18. I have the same Kindle and I love using it. Now knowing this, it makes me even more happy that I own it already, haha. Especially since my mom recently asked me if I knew of any eReaders that are more fit for people with regular migraines. Definitely going to tell her to buy the same one I have; thank you!

    • Glad you found the post helpful! I see a lot of people complain about reading giving them headaches or migraines and after having such a good experience with the Paperwhite I felt the need to share to let others know!

      • Definitely! I even caught myself picking up my Kindle this weekend when I was having a headache because I remembered your post. Usually I shy away from it, scared that it’s going to get worse but it didn’t. It even distracted me enough to the point of getting rid of it, haha.

  19. Oh my god, thank you so much for this! I suffer from chronic migraines and I’ve been tring to find an ereader for SO long

  20. I love my paperwhite! It is so easy on the eyes with the backlinght, no gloss screen and adjustable text size. I am glad it’s helped you avoid migraines as you read!

    • I don’t think I would have thought about it if I hadn’t started out using a Kindle Fire and having issues with reading on it for any extended period of time. Switching made me realize how much of a different the Paperwhite made in comparison!

  21. This is one of the reasons why I caved an bought the Paperwhite late last year! All of the reasons you mention are also the same reasons why I love it! One thing I would like to add is that the Paperwhite is SMALL enough for it not to smack me on my face when I fall asleep while reading. LOL I had been using my iPad 2 (it’s really old, I know) to read and although it works well, it’s TOO BIG and TOO HEAVY and WILL smack me on my face if I fall asleep while reading 😂

    • I don’t think I’ve ever had an eReader fall on my face but I can definitely see the appeal of a smaller device because of that!

  22. I don’t get migraines, but I did notice that my eyes got really blurry if I read on my Kindle Fire for too long. I tried lowering the screen brightness so it’s just bright enough to read and that’s worked so well for me. Maybe an idea of people with a Fire.

  23. I have a Kobo for almost 3 years never had a headache or any sort of problems. I read by day, by night, at home, on the train….Love it. And the battery still lasts for a week at least!

  24. I have an iPad mini that I use as an ereader as well as a tablet and I love it! I like having access to different reading apps on one device so I can read kindle books as well as epubs and pdfs. Although, 95% of my reading anymore is done on the kindle app. I’ve been thinking about getting a Paperwhite for a while now because I’ve noticed all my screen time across all my devices is affecting my ability to fall asleep. I think you convinced me to get one with the battery life alone because holy cow! It would be awesome not to have to stop reading to get the charger. Also, I’m a huge night reader too and it would be great not to have a light on to read so I don’t kill my eyesight. I’m going to have to watch for sales and get me one this year!

    -Jessie H./Rose Red
    goldiloxandthethreeweres.blogspot.com

  25. I love my Paperwhite. Unfortunately, my migraines are hormonal, so it doesn’t really matter what kind of screen I use for that. BUT it is so much easier on my eyes than traditional books are. I read almost exclusively on it now. Enjoy your Kindle!