Is Sleeping With Your Phone A Good Idea?

Having a cell phone in the bedroom may be affecting your sleep and health.

By Sheryl Grassie

Smartphones have become an all-in-one tool in our lives that can be a substitute for many other devices. They act as our clock, our alarm, our flashlight, and our calculator. We write notes, voice record to-do lists, read books, and note the time of an appointment in our calendar. We check the temperature, our bank balance, the weather, and our social media. We read the news, find election returns, and check our stocks. There are a hundred things you can do with your phone at any time of day or night. It makes perfect sense that you would want that phone on your bedside table or within reach when you go to sleep.

In 2015, a Bank of America Mobility Report found that, of the people studied, 71% slept with their phones nearby, and 13% slept with their phones in the bed with them. In the case of younger millennials (18-24), 34% slept with their phones in their beds as well. Other studies have cited even higher statistics with up to 72% of children and 89% of adults having a cell phone in their sleep environment.

The Problem

The problem is this, when you sleep with your phone in your bed, on your bedside table, or even somewhere in the room, it can have repercussions. More and more research is pointing to negative effects, or even outright health hazards, from sleeping with your phone.

From keeping you up too late in the evening, to disrupting sleep hormones, and even causing cancer, our cell phones have some downsides that make them less than ideal bed partners. If your spouse has their phone in bed also, it can be double trouble. Let’s take a look at the top areas of concern regarding sleeping with your cell phone, and then posit some solutions.

Concerns

Fire

Cellphones can catch fire. This is probably the last thing you think about when you take your phone to bed, but in fact it has happened. Several things can cause your cell phone to combust including issues with the battery, overheating when charging all night, and overheating when placed under a pillow or heavy bedding. Fire departments warn not to charge your phone overnight and not to place it under any bed covers.

Disrupted Sleep Patterns

There are many ways that having your cell phone with you in bed or close by can disrupt your sleep. Here are the current top concerns.

Staying Awake Too Late

Cell phones can have an addictive quality that makes you want to look at just one more post on Facebook, read one more email, or look at one more website before you put it away for the night.  Late night surfing can end up pushing back your bedtime and result in less sleep overall. Check out our article on phone usage at night.

Blue Light

The blue light from your phone’s screen mimics daylight and acts on your brain by suppressing melatonin, the sleep hormone. This can delay feeling drowsy and interfere with your ability to fall asleep, or it can cause a decrease in your quality of sleep where you find yourself waking during the night. Overall, it affects your circadian rhythm and can inhibit a good night’s rest.

Not Part of Good Sleep Hygiene

Good sleep hygiene incorporates a lot of bedtime dos and don’ts, and being on a screen of any type for the two hours before you go to sleep is not recommended. Consequently reading on your phone in bed, or any other interaction with your phone before falling asleep is a bad idea.

Settings Interference

Settings on your phone that have ringtones or alarms can wake you during the night and interrupt sleep. Everything from texts, to storm warnings, to sports updates can sound an alarm throughout the night.

General Consequences

Research is finding a correlation between pre-bedtime phone use and a number of sleep issues including nightmares, headaches, sleep texting, and difficulty falling asleep or difficulty waking.

Health Issues

The electromagnetic radiation from your cell phone is not considered safe for prolonged exposure. Although research is still in its infancy, the World Health Organization says that radiation from cell phones is “possibly cancer causing.” There are more studies confirming a link between cell phones and various health issues.

One understanding of the electromagnetic radiation or radio frequencies (RF) is that normal human DNA emits a frequency around 528 megahertz (MHz), and cell phones emit a frequency around 900MHz. The body and the brain can both have an adverse reaction to frequencies so divergent from their norm, and some of those reactions can result in serious health disorders. The following are some of the health risks associated with prolonged exposure to electromagnetic radiation from your phone being close by, even if you aren’t on it.

  • Low Sperm Count: Studies have found a link between lengthy cell phone exposure and both quality of sperm and sterility.
  • Headaches & Muscle Aches: Both these pain related maladies are linked to sustained cell phone exposure.
  • Impaired Memory: Cell phones are causing changes to the brains of their users. One outcome is changes to memory, impairing general recall.
  • Increases Tumor Growth: The level of radiation emitted from cell phones has been shown to increase the size of existing tumors.
  • Hearing: There is a link between hearing loss and radiation.
  • Cancer: Studies are linking continued cell phone radiation exposure to various kinds of cancer. Skin cancer, testicular cancer, and tumors in the heart, brain, and adrenal glands. One study in China found an increase in malignant tumors in the brains and spinal cords of phone owners.

Solutions

Not sleeping with your phone is an obvious solution to eliminating the possible risks to sleep and health. In addition, sleeping sans your phone has many positive benefits like falling asleep faster and having a less cluttered mind when going to bed. However, if you don’t think you can give up sleeping with your phone, here are some things that can help.

  • Daytime Charging: Charge your phone during the day and don’t keep in plugged in longer than necessary to prevent overheating.
  • Alarm Clock: Buy a separate alarm clock, so you don’t have to use your phone and can turn it off.
  • Airplane Mode: Turn your phone to airplane mode to limit radiation while you are sleeping.
  • Turn Off the Sound: Turn off the sound at night and all alerts and alarms to prevent unintentional waking.
  • Blue Light Filter: Use a blue light filter on your phone. Some smart phones now have a blue light filter as a built-in option. Check your phone or purchase a separate filter.
  • EMF Protector: Purchase an EMF (Electromagnetic Frequency) protector to limit radiation exposure. EMF protectors are readily available in many forms online.
  • Another Room: Put your phone in a different room from where you sleep. Many recommend the kitchen for a permanent overnight location.

Summary

Is Sleeping With Your Phone A Good Idea? Consider how it might affect your sleep and your health. More evidence is suggesting that it is not a good practice, so consider lessening your dependence on your phone, and put it in another room overnight. All indicators are that you will sleep better without your phone close by, and you will minimize the risks associated with electromagnetic radiation.


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