- 1. It keeps your mind psychologically engaged
- 2. The blue light from the screen suppresses melatonin
- 3. The alerting properties delay REM sleep
- So what should you do?
- 6 Ways That Night-time Phone Use Destroys Your Sleep
- 5 Ways to Limit Screentime At Bedtime
- Listen to a Podcast Instead of Watching Video
- Use An Internet Blocker
- Use An Auditing App
- Put Your Phone Out of Reach
- Use Night Mode Or Blue Light Blocking Glasses
- Relax, Turn Off Your Phone, and Go to Sleep
- Is Sleeping With Your Phone Near You Bad? 6 Positive Changes You’ll Notice If You Don’t
- 5 Things I Learned When I Stopped Bringing My Cell Phone to Bed
- Challenging Ways Technology Affects Your Sleep
- Three ways gadgets are keeping you awake
- Looking At Your Phone Before Bed Isn’t Good For You, But A New Study Suggests Using A Blue Light Filter If You Have To Do It
- Takes Longer to Fall Asleep
- Damages Your Eyes
- Low Quality Sleep
- Back Pain and RSI
- Groggy and Tired
- Obesity, Diabetes, Dementia and Depression
- Cancer Risk
- Tips to Reduce Damage From Phone Usage
- Bottom Line
- Do Smartphones Sabotage Sleep?
- Why Sleeping With Your Phone Might be a Bad Idea
1. It keeps your mind psychologically engaged
Smart phones were designed to make us more productive and our lives easier. They’re designed to entertain us and provide information. But when it’s time to turn off the lights and go to sleep, the last thing our brain needs is more information and more entertainment. (And that seems fair enough – we give our brains enough to think about during the day!)
“Checking your phone stimulates the brain so we are more active and awake,” says Dr. Walia. “Even just a quick check can engage your brain and prolong sleep.”
What can make this habit even worse is feeling the need to constantly be connected and available. Dr. Walia warns against the idea that you have to immediately answer, respond, post or scroll. The smart phone era has forced us to feel like we can never really log off, even when we’re sleeping.
Your mind can stay active and engaged long after you’ve scrolled through Instagram or responded to a few work emails. Going to bed and falling asleep should be a peaceful, happy and relaxing experience. Engaging with your phone too close to bedtime can negatively impact those feelings.
2. The blue light from the screen suppresses melatonin
Let’s cut to the chase. The blue light that your smart phone emits is not only bad for your vision, but it’s bad for your brain too. Dr. Walia says that research has found a correlation between suppressed levels of melatonin and exposure to blue light. Melatonin is a hormone responsible for controlling your sleep-wake cycle. So when your body runs low on it, you can experience insomnia, tiredness during the day and irritability.
The blue light from your phone is an artificial color that mimics daylight. This can be great during the day since it can make you feel more alert, but it’s just the opposite of what you need at night when you’re winding down to hit the hay.
Exposure to blue light can affect your internal body clock and throw off your circadian rhythm. This rhythm is in tune to light and dark. It’s why you feel more tired at night when the sun starts to set and why you feel more energized in the morning when it’s light.
Adding in your phone’s artificial blue light right before bed disrupts your body’s internal clock and rhythm.
3. The alerting properties delay REM sleep
You probably know what it’s like to scroll through Facebook right before bed and see something that makes you upset. Even seeing something right before bed that makes you happy can trigger a response that prolongs falling sleep, which consequently delays REM sleep. These emotions can leave you staring at the ceiling for hours feeling wide awake.
Checking your phone right before bed can lead to distracting emotions, thoughts and anxiety, says Dr. Walia.
And it’s not just the alertness you get from late night social media sessions either. It’s thinking about or feeling your phone going off under your pillow. It’s listening for that email chime letting you know a project is moving along.
Everything about your phone is supposed to make your life easier and entertain you, but what it’s really doing at night before bed is the exact opposite. It’s distracting you, keeping you awake, stimulating your brain and delaying REM sleep.
So what should you do?
If you’re a nighttime technology user, it’s important to set some ground rules for usage closer to bedtime.
Dr. Walia recommends to cut off screen time 1 hour before bed, but says there are even benefits to discontinuing it just 30 minutes before bed. And sure smart phones are typically the main culprit, but even tablets and TVs can emit blue light that can contribute to poor sleep.
It’s important to establish a relaxing bedtime routine and discourage activities that can lead to anxiety or a high emotional response. Dr. Walia recommends choosing nighttime activities that promote sleep.
If you’re really struggling with limiting screen time before bed, try putting your phone in a different room and investing in a clock radio for your bedside table. There are also options within your phone (like setting it on ‘night mode’) to minimize distractions and notifications that can help get you in the mood to snooze.
6 Ways That Night-time Phone Use Destroys Your Sleep
Source: Open clipart-Vectors/
I’ve written a lot about sleep, but it’s time I wrote an article that’s just about the phone problem.
I see many people in my medical work who are looking for sleeping pills because they can’t get a good night’s rest. Coaching clients, too, complain of trouble winding down, poor sleep and broken sleep.
The first thing I target?
People have a vague idea that using their phone before bed (or in bed) affects their sleep, but that vague awareness usually isn’t enough to seriously change their habit.
You need to change your habit, seriously.
Here, based on findings from a study by Harvard researchers, are 6 reasons why you need to stop using your phone (and any other screens) in the hour or two before bed:
1) It will take you longer to fall asleep
Study participants who were using an E-reader before bed (a blue light-emitting screen similar to a tablet or smartphone) took on average of 10 minutes longer to fall asleep versus those who were reading a normal print book. Try reading a real book at night instead of doing anything on your phone or watching TV or Netflix, and you’ll see how much sleepier you feel and how much more quickly you fall asleep.
2) It will mess with and delay your circadian clock rhythm
It seems almost every week we get more data which illustrates the paramount importance of a healthy, well-synched circadian rhythm. So many (almost all?) of your body functions hinge on this. Your metabolism, your mood, your appetite for sweet or junky foods (and in turn your weight), your risk of developing diabetes and possibly even cancer, the list goes on and on. Artificial light at night, especially the blue type from phones and screens, confuses your brain and messes up this clock.
3) It will suppress your melatonin secretion when you need it most
The hormone melatonin plays a key role in maintaining a proper circadian rhythm and promoting deep, restorative sleep. It may also play a role in protecting the health of your brain as you age. Even low levels of light, such as a dim bedside lamp, can decrease the production of melatonin (for this reason, you should never sleep with a “nightlight” on and use good blackout curtains). The light emitted from phone screens, shining directly in your eyes, suppresses the production of this crucial hormone in the evening. If you must look at a screen, turn it way down and use any program available (such as “night shift” on an iPhone) that will decrease the component of blue light.
4) It will decrease your REM sleep
REM sleep is a stage of sleep that is critical for restoration of your mind and body. REM sleep solidifies memories and is tied to your creative and problem-solving skills. If you don’t get enough of it, it can leave you feeling groggy and having difficulty concentrating the next day.
5) It will make you more alert when you want to wind down
Lying in bed, reading your phone is relaxing, right? Dead wrong. The research shows that it actually wakes you up, making you feel more alert, less sleepy, and more likely to delay even trying to go to sleep. You know that delicious feeling you get when you’re reading a book in bed, and your eyes start to droop, and then you reach over and turn out the light to got to sleep? Looking at a screen at night will cause the reverse. You’ll get more awake, stay up later, and kick yourself for doing it the next morning when you wake up exhausted.
6) You will feel more tired and less alert when you wake up
According to the Harvard study, reading a screen before sleeping will cause you to feel more sleepy and groggy when you wake up in the morning. Those who read from a screen before bed reported taking hours longer to fully “wake up” the next day, compared to those who read a printed book instead.
I hope this is hitting home for you. Looking at screens at night, especially shortly before bed, will make it harder for you to go to sleep. You’ll be less likely to feel like going to bed, even though your body may desperately need the sleep. Your circadian clock will get messed up and affect your health in a multitude of negative ways. You’ll sleep less deeply, wake less refreshed and it may take hours for you to properly wake up the next day (well into your workday, whoops).
I know how hard it is to break this habit. I typically have to coach my clients on phone-avoidance strategies and hold them accountable to their commitments. You have to find other bed-time routines that don’t involve screens, that you find enjoyable and relaxing.
For myself, I’ve found that setting an alarm on my phone is really helpful. I usually go to bed between 10:30 and 11 pm, so I’ve set a reminder to go off at 9 pm, telling me to put the phone down and reminding me that I need to stop all screens at that point, for the rest of the evening. No phone, no computer, no tablet, and no TV. Just real books, listening to music, hanging out with my husband, whatever doesn’t involve a screen. There are actually lots of wonderful options!
I implemented this recently as I’d been falling back into the nighttime phone habit, and my sleep had really suffered as a result. Ever since I got back into the strict no-screens after 9 pm regime, I have truly been sleeping like a baby. I hardly wake up throughout the night, sleep a solid 8 hours, and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go. The difference is dramatic.
I urge you to try this new habit out, for at least a week. I’m trusting that the impact on your life will be so positive, that you won’t ever want to go back to scrolling through Facebook in bed, ever again. (And, of course, if this doesn’t do the trick and you continue to experience serious sleep challenges, please go see your doctor to rule out other causes of poor quality sleep)
– Copyright Dr. Susan Biali Haas 2018
“Let’s get a bed for our phones,” my boyfriend said one morning. My response: “Um, what?” We were talking about our shared goal of wanting to get more sleep and stay off our phones outside of work hours. He seemed to think a “phone bed” would do the trick. “It’s literally a tiny bed where you tuck your phone in at night,” he explained.
I took to the interwebs to research this “phone bed” idea. It turns out, Arianna Huffington, the newly-tapped Queen of Sleep and author of The Sleep Revolution, actually sells a phone bed on her site, Thrive Global. It looks just like a tiny doll bed—mattress and all—but it’s also a charging station that can house multiple phones and tablets for the night.
I started reading a blog post on her Thrive website about the goal of the phone bed: “At bedtime, you turn off the TV, you close the blinds, you lock the door, you tuck in your kids (if you have kids), you get in bed—and then proceed to spend an hour answering emails and checking social media,” it says. “Taking our phones to bed with us isn’t just a sad commentary on our relationship with technology—it’s also harming our sleep.” I could relate all too well.
For years, I’ve been taking my phone to bed with me. My phone is legit next to me at all times—even when I sleep. Photo courtesy of the author
On my bedside table, I have a charger set up specifically so I can have my phone next to me at all hours of the night. I’m not alone—according to a survey of 1,000 U.S. adults commissioned by Bank of America, 71 percent of Americans sleep with or next to their smartphones.
Having my phone right next to my head at bedtime is a dangerous temptation. The first thing I do when I get in bed each night: tap on my phone for at least 30 minutes until I’ve dug myself into an Instagram hole so deep that I can’t remember which #influencer I started with. Then, I turn off the lights and try to fall asleep—typically with frustrating results. If I can’t fall asleep, I might pick my phone back up and start Facebook stalking my second cousin’s best friend. It’s a reflex: No sleep, mo’ phone.
That unconscious habit isn’t good for sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, blue light emitted from phone screens can interfere with the production of melatonin, the hormone that helps you get to sleep. Trying to unwind before bed on your smartphone is actually counterintuitive—the phone’s blue light is telling your body to stay awake.
If I wanted to sleep better, I knew I needed to make a change. So I DIYed my own phone bed.
Huffington’s phone bed charging station costs a whopping $100—and I don’t have that kind of fancy phone bed money. So, I decided to go all Pinterest and create my own phone bed out of a makeup bag (thanks, Glossier!). I used a Sharpie to draw what looked like a “bed” on the case, and I cut a hole in the bag so I could charge my phone while it “slept.” Within five minutes, I had created my own bootleg phone bed—and I was pretty damn proud. Let’s bask in its glory, shall we?
5 Ways to Limit Screentime At Bedtime
For a great many of us, smartphones screens are the first thing we look at when we wake up in the morning and the last thing we see before going to sleep at night.
Here are 5 tips for reducing or eliminating cell phone screentime before bed.
Multiple research studies have concluded that smartphone use before bed is abjectly bad for our sleep. This is because it disrupts the production of important sleep hormone melatonin and tricks one’s mind into thinking it needs to stay awake.
To help curb this, the National Sleep Foundation recommends 30 minutes of gadget-free time before bed. Before declaring this advice too difficult to put into practice, check out these five tips for emancipating yourself from your smartphone screen at night.
Listen to a Podcast Instead of Watching Video
Television and movies have been an integral part of the afterwork routines of millions of Americans for decades. However, with the advent of streaming apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, it’s easier than ever to take this habit to the bedroom, and zone out on our phones while we’re lying semi-comatose.
While video watching may seem to be helping us to relax us before bed, it’s actually engaging our brains and telling us to stay alert. But there’s a way around this corrosive routine: podcasts.
With podcasts, we can get a little nighttime entertainment before drifting off without absorbing the light from our smartphone screens. There are even podcasts specifically designed to relax you before bed.
If you sleep next to a partner, the best method for taking in a podcast is undoubtedly via headphones. However, if you’re trying to keep your phone away from the immediate proximity of your bed (indeed you should be) and you either sleep alone or your partner doesn’t mind it, an alternative solution is a bluetooth speaker. Either way, you’ll be setting yourself up to fall asleep faster than you would be watching episodes of Better Call Saul.
Use An Internet Blocker
Since almost all of the stuff that keeps us up at night on our phones is coming to us via WiFi or cellular signal, there’s a very direct solution: an internet/app blocker.
With apps like Freedom, you can select which apps or websites you wish to block, and set a timeframe for doing so. Freedom and other similar apps have been popularized by writers who need to block out distractions when they work, and there’s no reason it can’t also be used to limit overall screentime before bed.
Use An Auditing App
One solution to decreasing smartphone use in general is to track our personal usage and shame ourselves into curbing it after certain thresholds have been reached. This can only help to convince ourselves that we’ve used our phone enough by the time 10pm rolls around.
There are several iOS and Android auditing apps that can help with this:
- Moment (for iPhones) gives you an overall breakdown of your usage, but allows you to set limits that, once reached, block you from using the device any further that day.
- Quality Time (for Android) serves a similar function to Moment but allows you to break down usage by app.
Put Your Phone Out of Reach
This a decidedly more analog solution than the first three, but no less effective, provided you have the discipline to put it into practice.
Totally clearing your bedroom of all devices can help you to actually follow the National Sleep Foundation’s recommendation of 30 minutes of gadget-free time before bed, and perhaps foster new habits in its place, like reading a book instead.
Try leaving your phone in a designated space in another room, and keep doing so until it becomes habit.
Use Night Mode Or Blue Light Blocking Glasses
If you simply must use your phone in bed prior to sleep, one solution for reducing screen effects includes activating night mode. Apple’s Night Shift, for example, converts the on-screen color spectrum from blue to yellow, which is supposed to be easier on the eyes and improve sleep (reports have called into question it’s actual efficacy, though).
Another solution is wearing blue light blocking glasses. There are a few on the market today; of these, the Uvex Skyper model was shown to be the most effective in tests run by Consumer Reports.
Keep in mind that neither of these solutions prevent the pulse-quickening effects of reading a worrying email or watching an exciting movie.
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Relax, Turn Off Your Phone, and Go to Sleep
As a child, I was a terrible sleeper. My parents would often find me awake at 3 AM with a flashlight under the covers reading a Hardy Boy, Nancy Drew, or Tom Swift book. When I was 9-years-old, my pediatrician prescribed an awful tasting medicine to be taken at night, mixed with pineapple juice to mask the flavor. Years later, I found out that the medicine was actually a heavy duty narcotic, sometimes called a “Mickey Finn.” Needless to say, I was just never a good sleeper. In my adult years, I often explained away my sleeping habits by swearing that 4-5 hours of sleep a night was all I needed.
My colleagues and I at California State University, Dominguez Hills, conducted sleep research that stems from my lab’s work on the “psychology of technology,” where we have discovered two important variables that encourage us to use (and misuse) technology, thereby losing sleep: (1) poor executive functioning, which includes our (in)ability to pay attention, problem solve, control our impulses, and make decisions, and (2) anxiety. In our work, anxiety is sometimes referred to as FOMO, or the fear of missing out. We see this anxiety in the majority of smartphone users who feel uncomfortable if they are not in direct contact with their phones — and their many electronic connections — 24/7/365. A dead battery and no charger can bring upon a panic attack.
In our new, yet-to-be-published study of more than 700 college students, we found that while poor executive functioning did predict sleep problems, the stronger effect was actually due to anxiety. The students who were more anxious about being apart from their phones used their phones more during a typical day, and woke up to check their phones more often at night. The latter two results — more daily smartphone use and more nighttime awakenings — led directly to sleep problems.
Why does anxiety about needing to stay in contact negatively impact sleep? First, those who are anxious about staying connected are more likely to use their technology right up until bedtime. We now know that the blue wavelength light from LED-based devices (phones, tablets, computers) increases the release of cortisol in the brain, which makes us more alert, and inhibits the production of melatonin, which is needed to fall asleep. That’s why The National Sleep Foundation recommends turning off all devices an hour prior to bedtime. The Mayo Clinic says that if you do choose to use technology during the hour before bedtime, keep it 14 inches from your face and dim the brightness, which helps reduce the blue light and increases the natural melatonin release. A study by researchers at Harvard Medical School found that compared to reading a paper book, people who read from an e-book needed an additional 10 minutes to fall asleep. They experienced 90 minutes of delayed melatonin onset — and had half the amount of melatonin released. They also had diminished rapid eye movement sleep. To compound these effects, anxious people have more cortisol in their system, which further stymies sleep. Anxious people also tend to have shorter attention spans — our own research has shown that they switch tasks every 3-5 minutes. This frenetic task switching increases stress — and cortisol — creating a vicious cycle. Finally, anxious people are more likely to sleep with their phone close by and check it when they awaken at night, which then further disrupts sleep.
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Consider how vitally important sleep is to our health. In the 1950s and 1960s, William Dement and Nathaniel Kleitman illuminated the process of sleep. Basically, for normally well-rested people, sleep happens in a series of 90-minute bursts, each ending with a dream. Leading up to the dream are four critical phases responsible for synaptic rejuvenation, or the process of pruning away unneeded mental connections and consolidating or reinforcing needed ones. In addition, various molecular byproducts of thinking are left in the brain throughout the day, which are then washed away during normal sleep. Included among these are beta amyloids, which have been found in abundance in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. (For more on the relationship between sleep and Alzheimer’s disease, see this brief.) When you are not well rested, these phases — and the brain’s housekeeping chores — are disrupted. Further, if you awaken someone every time they start dreaming, they will soon skip the four phases and go straight into REM dream sleep, reducing synaptic rejuvenation.
The National Sleep Foundation has shown that we are in the midst of a 50-year decline in sleep duration, and one study found that 90% of Americans use their gadgets within the last hour before bedtime at least a few nights a week. They also found that the average college student loses 46 minutes of sleep each night due to answering phone calls or checking for messages. Add it all up, and we are all running the risk of a massive sleep debt that is not going to allow our sleeping brain to do its job. Sleep deprivation is leading to less efficient learning, higher emotionality, increased anxiety, and a less efficient brain.
So how do you reduce your nighttime anxiety and permit your brain to sleep effectively? Here are some suggestions:
- During the day, practice not reacting to incoming alerts or notifications like one of Pavlov’s dogs. Don’t check your phone every time it beeps. In fact, turn off notifications and check on a schedule to retrain your brain’s neurotransmitters (particularly cortisol). Start by checking every 15 minutes, and gradually increase that to 30 minutes or more. Tell your family, friends, and colleagues that you may not respond immediately, but you will within a specified amount of time, such as 30 minutes to an hour later.
- Stop using all devices one hour prior to sleep.
- Put all devices away in another room rather than keep them in the bedroom to discourage you from checking them during the night. (If you must keep a phone nearby in case of emergency, set it so that it only rings when certain people are calling, but still place it across the room and away from your bedside.)
- An hour before bedtime, start dimming the room lights slowly to release melatonin.
- During the last hour before bedtime, choose an activity that your brain will find predictable and, thus, not anxiety-provoking. Consider any of the following:
- Watch a television show that you love, maybe even a repeat.
- Read a paper book (or use a Kindle which doesn’t emit blue light) by a familiar author.
- Listen to music that is very familiar like a playlist of your favorite songs. If you need a device to do this, burn CDs and get a CD player. (The key is to use a device that doesn’t have internet access, email, or a phone.) Keep the volume low.
- If you awaken in the middle of the night, try this trick: have a song lyric in mind (not the whole song) that you plan to sing in your mind over and over to block the anxiety and allow you to fall back to sleep. Another option is to learn one of many meditation techniques and practice and use those skills to calm your mind.
Our devices are a gift that connect us to so many people and so much information, but they do not have to raise our anxiety and harm our all-important sleep. We need to control our devices, rather than letting them control us.
Is Sleeping With Your Phone Near You Bad? 6 Positive Changes You’ll Notice If You Don’t
People have a lot of hang-ups when it comes to their sleep space. Among the many reservations are ongoing debates questioning whether or not wearing socks to bed is a hygiene issue, and if sharing the covers with your cat is such a genius idea. But the real question millennials are afraid to know the answer to is this: Is sleeping with your phone near you bad for your health? Sorry my friends, but snoozing with your cell is likely messing with both your physical and mental health in at least a few different ways.
As much as we don’t want to admit it, smartphones have become the millennial’s primary lifeline. Personally, I’m surprised computers haven’t become obsolete yet considering how we, as a generation, communicate, are entertained by, get our news from, and find love via cellular devices. Our phones are rarely out of reach, and even though it may appear that you sleep more soundly with Siri by your side, the truth is, sleeping with technology is a health hazard, and we need to break up with this behavior ASAP.
Back in June 2015, Bank of America released its annual Trends in Consumer Mobility Report, in which 1,000 checking or savings account holders ages 18 and above were asked about using their smartphones in bed. Of the responders, a whopping 71 percent claimed they sleep with or next to their phone. Well, considering it’s now 2017 and smartphones have become even more of a liability than they were in 2015, I wouldn’t be surprised if that percentage has already skyrocketed.
There are so many reasons why you shouldn’t sleep with your phone, but if you need a reason to ditch yours, here are some of the benefits you’ll reap if you start keeping your device separate from your bedtime routine.
1. You’ll Most Likely Fall Asleep Faster
Having your phone at your disposal is a dangerous game to play when you’re actually trying to fall asleep. Who can snooze when there are Instagram photos to scroll through, Facebook statuses to roll your eyes at, and tweets to reply to?
This isn’t to say sleeping with your phone in the next room omits all distractions and guarantees you won’t wake up in the middle of the night naturally. That can happen regardless of whether or not your cell phone is within arm’s reach.
However, Kelsey Down, writer for Sleep Train, tells Elite Daily that separating your phone from your sleep space — starting a least a half hour before bed — can help you “fall asleep faster and experience a more restful, restorative quality of sleep.”
2. Your Mind Will Be Less Cluttered
When your phone is right beside you, vibrating every five seconds with notifications and texts, it’s easy to feel compelled to check your social accounts, let your work wife know you’re stopping for coffee tomorrow on the way in, and email your professor about an assignment.
Experts from mattress company Spoon Sleep tell Elite Daily that our smartphones “put us in an enhanced state of sensory sensitivity” which, if not properly managed, “can lead to stress.” This leads to a spiraling cycle in which stress hormones trigger an increase in blood pressure, speed up your heart rate, and magnify feelings of anxiety — all of which contribute to a serious lack of sleep.
Try leaving your phone on top of your dresser on the opposite side of the room to help relieve this indirect pressure to be in constant contact with the world, so you can finally close your eyes and actually focus on sleeping instead of on what’s happening on social media.
3. You’ll Establish A Routine Sans Social Media Scrolling
Social media sucks the life out of life. It’s so easy to lose track of time at night while stalking your ex-best friend from high school. Before you know it, it’s 1 a.m. and you’re royally screwed for waking up tomorrow morning.
Banning your smartphone from the bedroom (or your nighttime routine in general) frees up space and time for you to establish a routine full of things you get genuine pleasure from doing, like reading a book or soaking in a warm tub surrounded by colorful suds. Who needs to pin things to a digital dream board when you’re living that Kodak moment IRL?
4. Plus, It’s For Your Own Safety
Sleeping with your phone near you can not only disrupt your quality of sleep, it can also potentially be a major fire hazard.
In June 2017, the Newton, New Hampshire, Fire Department posted a photo to its Facebook page showing the very real risk of the heat generated from cell phones and chargers sparking a fire under your pillow.
Bustle reports that, according to the 2017 Hartford Home Fire Index, charging your phone in bed is a “high risk” for starting a fire. As someone who’s definitely guilty of doing this, I can honestly say from now on, I’m never charging my phone on or near my bed.
5. You’ll Definitely Be More Alert When You’re Awake
Down tells Elite Daily that the blue light from your cell phone “disrupts melatonin production.” Melatonin is the sleep hormone that maintains your body’s natural circadian rhythm. See the problem?
When melatonin production is disrupted, so is your sleep cycle, which means you’re not getting the quality of sleep necessary to function properly during waking hours.
David Dinges, Ph.D. told Men’s Health that sleep “stabilizes your waking brain, making you more alert.” When your mind is sharp, your ability to process, withhold, and remember information is strengthened.
Caffeine may help you bounce back from that lagging feel, but you can’t beat a good night’s sleep.
6. You’ll Probably Be Less Attached To Your Cell During The Day
If nothing else, not sleeping with your phone anywhere near you could be the first step to cutting the cord on what may be a really unhealthy relationship.
Power off your cell an hour or so before bed to allow yourself a solid window to go through your nighttime routine, wind down, and sleep soundly throughout the night. If you can do this for a week or two, start limiting phone usage in other aspects of your life, too.
For example, try establishing “no-phone time zones” when you know you tend to get distracted by your cell. So, instead of leaving your phone on your desk at work, maybe toss it into your tote most of the day and check it only at lunch instead. If your phone plays third-wheel at the dinner table, stash it on your sofa and focus on enjoying your food.
Believe it or not, there was a time before cell phones, and people survived. Let’s dial back to basics, shall we?
5 Things I Learned When I Stopped Bringing My Cell Phone to Bed
Photo: PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou/Getty Images
A couple months ago, one of my friends told me she and her husband never bring their cell phones into their bedroom. I stifled an eye roll, but it did pique my curiosity. I’d texted her the night before and not gotten a response until the following morning, and she very politely let me know that if I ever didn’t get a reply from her at night again, that would probably be why. At first, my reaction was along the lines of, “Wait… What?!” But after thinking about it, it started making a whole lot of sense. She said it really helped her sleep more soundly, and that making the commitment to keep her phone out of her bedroom was a game-changer. At the time, I filed this in my brain under “nice for her, not something I’m interested in.” (P.S. Your tech devices might not just be messing with your sleep and relaxation, but your cell phone is ruining your downtime, too.)
As a person who is generally tuned in to what’s happening in health and wellness, I’m aware that screen time right before bed is a pretty big no-no. The blue light that comes from electronics mimics daytime light, which can cause your body to stop producing melatonin, aka the sleep hormone, according to Pete Bils, vice chair of the Better Sleep Council, as reported in 12 Steps to Better Sleep. That means that even if your body is tired, you’re probably going to have a harder time falling asleep after watching TV, using a computer, or-you guessed it-looking at your phone in bed. (And FYI, that blue light isn’t so great for your skin, either.)
Despite *knowing* this, I still bring my phone into my bed. I read and scroll through things on it before I go to sleep, and I look at it first thing in the morning when I wake up. I was fine with happily ignoring the fact that this routine is proven to be bad for you until I started experiencing weird sleep-related symptoms. Over the past few months, I started waking up in the middle of the night. ~Every single night~. (Maybe I should have tried these restorative yoga poses for deeper sleep.) I was always able to go back to sleep. But if you’ve ever experienced this, you know how annoying and disruptive it can be. And it made me question whether the sleep I was getting was really all that good.
After wondering what the heck was going on with my sleep-and most importantly, what I could do to fix it-I remembered what my friend said about leaving her cell phone to charge outside her bedroom. I considered checking in with my doctor about what might be causing my mid-slumber wake-ups, but I already knew that the first thing they’d tell me to do is remove screens from my nighttime life. Begrudgingly, I decided to try making my bedroom a cell-phone-free zone for a week. I’m not going to lie; it wasn’t easy, but it was certainly eye-opening. Here’s what I learned.
1. I’m addicted to my cell phone.
Okay, so maybe that’s a little dramatic, but there is rehab for cell phone use and honestly, this experience showed me that I’m not that far from being a candidate for it. I actually got out of bed to go stand in the kitchen (my phone’s designated plug-in spot for the week) and look at my phone several times during this little experiment-especially in the beginning. And it wasn’t unusual at all to find myself lying in bed thinking, “If only I could check Instagram or read the news right now.” This urge was especially strong because my boyfriend politely declined to take part in my little experiment, deeming his nighttime Instagram Explore page black hole habit to be too fun to give up. Understandable. I found myself missing my phone less over the course of the week, but the fact that I missed it so much initially was an important reality check.
2. Yes, you really do sleep better when you don’t have your phone in bed.
Like many working people, I don’t generally have time to read the news during the day, so my routine had become to skim through the day’s headlines right before going to sleep. Needless to say, before this experiment, I was having some pretty weird stress dreams thanks to giving my brain all kinds of heavy things to think about right before bed. So, those stopped. What’s more, the whole waking up in the middle of the night thing got a lot better. It didn’t happen immediately, but on day number five I woke up and realized I had slept through the entire night. It’s hard to know for sure, but I have a suspicion that it had something to do with removing the bright light of my phone from the equation.
3. I realized it’s okay to be offline sometimes.
I live in a different time zone than my job’s home base. That means it’s ideal for me to be available via email when my colleagues need me, and honestly, that’s part of the reason I like taking my phone to bed. I can catch up on emails before I go to sleep, quickly answer urgent questions, and then take stock of what happened overnight first thing in the morning. (Oops, guess I should have read this: Answering Work Emails After Hours Is Officially Harming Your Health) I also like being able to respond to texts from friends and family ASAP since I’d expect them to do the same for me. The thing is, during the entire week that I powered down a little earlier than usual, not one important thing happened while I was sleeping. Zero! Not one text message or email arrived that couldn’t wait until morning. Sounds like I can stop using this as an excuse to have my phone on me 24/7. (If this sounds good to you, try this seven-day digital detox to spring clean your life.)
4. I talked to my partner more without it.
Even though he still had his phone, the fact that I didn’t have one meant I had two options for what to do until I fell asleep: read or talk to my boyfriend. I did both, but I noticed that we had much longer and more interesting conversations than we normally do before bed, which was a surprising bonus.
5. Mornings are better phone-free.
There is something so nice about not being woken up by the alarm on your phone, and it’s something I’ve experienced very few times since I got my first cell phone. And while I definitely missed my phone at night, I did not miss my usual morning status check in the slightest. Instead, I’d wake up, get dressed, make some coffee, look out the window, whatever-and then look at my phone. I’d always heard people say that starting your morning with a quiet moment for yourself is a good idea, but aside from meditating using an app on my phone, I’d never really put it into practice. I discovered that not looking at my phone in the morning was its own kind of meditation, one that allowed my mind to be quiet for a few extra minutes each day. And that in itself made this whole experiment worth it. While I can’t say I’ll never bring my phone to bed again, the perks are definitely worth trying to make this a regular habit.
Challenging Ways Technology Affects Your Sleep
Three ways gadgets are keeping you awake
Our cell phones, tablets, computers and other electronic gadgets have become such a huge part of our daily lives that it’s often hard to put them down—even at bedtime. Keeping your phone on your nightstand may not seem like a big deal, but technology affects your sleep in more ways than you realize. Whether you’re surfing the web, playing a video game, or using your phone as an alarm clock in the late evening, you’re probably keeping yourself from a restful night. Learn the facts about digital devices, below, so you can nip your tech habits in the bud.
They Suppress Melatonin.
The blue light emitted by screens on cell phones, computers, tablets, and televisions restrain the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle or circadian rhythm. Reducing melatonin makes it harder to fall and stay asleep. Most Americans admit to using electronics a few nights a week within an hour before bedtime. But to make sure technology isn’t harming your slumber, give yourself at least 30 minutes of gadget-free transition time before hitting the hay. Even better: Make your bedroom a technology-free zone—keep your electronics outside the room (that includes a TV!).
They Keep Your Brain Alert.
It may seem harmless to knock out a few emails before bed or unwind with a favorite movie, but by keeping your mind engaged, technology can trick your brain into thinking that it needs to stay awake. And if you’re surfing the web, seeing something exciting on Facebook, or reading a negative email, those experiences can make it hard to relax and settle into slumber. After spending an entire day surrounded by technology, your mind needs time to unwind.
They Wake You Up.
Just because you’re not using your cell phone before bed doesn’t mean that it can’t harm your sleep: Keeping a mobile within reach can still disturb slumber, thanks to the chimes of late night texts, emails, calls, or calendar reminders. About 72 percent of children ages six to 17 sleep with at least one electronic device in their bedroom, which leads to getting less sleep on school nights compared with other kids, according to their parents. The difference adds up to almost an hour per night, and the quality of snoozing is negatively affected too. To get a better night’s slumber, parents can limit their kids’ technology use in the bedroom, and mom and dad should be solid role models and set the tone by doing the same.
Looking At Your Phone Before Bed Isn’t Good For You, But A New Study Suggests Using A Blue Light Filter If You Have To Do It
For some reason, the urge to scroll through social media or research random things on the internet always seems to strike at night, when you’re just settling in under the covers to go to sleep. Of course, most people know by now that looking at your phone before bed isn’t good for you, but most of us continue to do it anyway. But a new study may have found a way to make these nighttime Twitter scrolls wreak a little less havoc on your beauty rest.
In the study, researchers at the University of Houston College of Optometry instructed participants between the ages of 17 and 42 to go about their usual “digital routine” at night, but while wearing special glasses that block out the blue light emitted from smartphones and TV screens.
After two weeks of doing this, the results showed that all of the participants fell asleep faster, reported a better quality night of sleep, and they slept longer than usual.
Plus, the participants’ melatonin levels (the sleep hormone in the body) increased by 58 percent as a result of wearing the special glasses.
That’s an even bigger boost of melatonin than what you’d get from taking over-the-counter supplements, ScienceAlert reported.
According to lead researcher on the study Lisa Ostrin, “the most important takeaway is that blue light at night time really does decrease sleep quality.”
So, it’s really not just the action of scrolling through Instagram that’s keeping your brain awake when it shouldn’t be — it’s that pesky blue light coming from your phone.
So, what exactly is that blue light?
Blue light is the color on the light spectrum, visible to the human eye, that has shorter wavelengths and less energy. You’re mostly exposed to blue light from the sun, but you also get exposure to it from digital screens like computer monitors, cell phones, and iPads.
According to the website Blue Light Exposed, 60 percent of people spend most of their time (more than six hours a day) in front of a digital screen. And, when you’re looking at that screen — particularly when you’re in bed — your face is usually super close to the device. That constant, close exposure can lead to not only unnecessary strain on your eyes, but possibly even damage to the retinas over time.
The thing is, blue light is necessary for your health, as it boosts alertness and regulates your circadian rhythm.
But a boost of energy is basically the exact opposite of what your body needs when you’re trying to go to sleep.
By looking at your phone in the dark just before you fall asleep, you’re sending a signal to your brain to wake up, thus throwing off your body’s whole sleep cycle.
Your body does technically need that signal from blue light, but not right before your bedtime.
The great news is, while you may not have those special glasses used in the University of Houston study, there is something you can do to cut down on your nighttime intake of blue light.
Some devices are already equipped with a blue light filter feature, like the Acer Predator 8 tablet (not sure who uses that, but hey, it’s a thing).
For Android users, there are apps available that allow you to apply a blue filter at whatever percentage you’d like. And for iPhone users, you can enable something called “the Night Shift,” which dulls the light of the screen so it’s less stimulating for your brain. Or, you can get a blue light filter app if you prefer to go that route.
Either way, don’t let something as silly as a smartphone ruin your eyesight later in life. Y’all are better than that.
Whether this feature has been in iOS since the beginning or not, this is the first I’ve heard of it, so I’m guessing there are a few of you out there that haven’t found the sleep timer in iOS, either.
If you want to listen to music or audiobooks before you go to sleep, it’s generally a good idea to have a way to turn the music off after you’ve fallen asleep, right?
Well, it turns out that there’s a sleep timer right in iOS itself, but it might not be where you’d expect it to be.
Instead of finding the sleep timer in the Music app, which can play music, podcasts, videos, and audiobooks, you’ll find it in the Clock app.
Launch your Clock app with a tap, and then tap on the Timer button in the lower right. Once there, set the timer for however long you want your media to play.
Next, tap “When Timer Ends,” and scroll all the way to the bottom. Tap on Stop Playing. Now, when you’re playing music at bedtime (or whenever, really), your iPhone will stop playing all media on your device when the timer runs out.
The Stop Playing option may also work with other media apps, though the results are varied. Some folks report Spotify not working with this feature, while others say that YouTube obeys the Stop Playing command. You’ll have to try it out on your own iPhone to see which third party apps work and which don’t.
Do you take your phone to bed with you? If so you need to be aware of the various health risks and why it’s beneficial to ban smartphones from the bedroom.
There have been many studies into smartphone usage in the bedroom and they’ve universally concluded its damaging to health.
This article goes into some of the risks to help better understand why they are damaging and tips to counteract the damage.
If all your personal space is a bedroom take this advice as to why you shouldn’t use a phone in bed.
Takes Longer to Fall Asleep
The blue light from screen devices has shown to suppress the bodies production of melatonin. This hormone is produced by the pea-sized pineal gland near the middle of our brain and helps to regulate sleep. Your body naturally makes more melatonin at night but blue light can affect this.
It’s advisable to use a blue light filter on your devices in the evening to make the screen omit less blue and more yellow light. Try to avoid looking at a screen an hour before going to bed in order to give your body the best chance at falling asleep quickly.
The last thing you want to do when in bed is stimulate your mind and make you more alert and this is exactly what a phone does.
Using your phone or watching TV when you can’t fall asleep is more than likely to exasperate the problem. Try to do anything that relaxes you and doesn’t involve a screen. I find listening to the radio or some yoga poses help me.
Damages Your Eyes
Smartphones and tablets emit high levels of blue light and at night time exposure can damage your retinas. We are exposed to blue light as part of the full light spectrum during the day from natural sunlight but nighttime exposure from high levels of blue light is unnatural.
Long-term exposure at high levels has been linked to macular degeneration and this condition leads to the loss of vision.
Low Quality Sleep
You’re more likely to wake up in the middle of the night if you used a screen shortly before going to bed. If you have a phone next to you in bed its all too easy to check something and the screen will make it even more difficult to get back to sleep.
Smartphone usage in bed has been linked with a reduction in REM sleep. Rapid Eye Movement sleep is important as it’s the restorative part of our sleep that plays a critical role in storing long-term memories and is linked to our creative and problem-solving skills.
Back Pain and RSI
When using a phone most people are forcing their body into a position that affects the necks natural curvature. This problem is compounded when using a phone in bed with extra pressure on your nerves, spine and neck.
If you get pain while using a device, like neck ache or dead hands/fingers, do not ignore it. It may disappear the next day but if you continue doing something that’s causing pain it will take longer to heal each time and could cause permanent damage.
It’s been shown that the body’s respiratory system can decrease in capacity by up to 30% when using a phone in bed. Less oxygen in the body means organs won’t be able to perform at optimum levels.
Groggy and Tired
Using a phone in bed leads to waking up feeling groggy and less alert. Studies have shown that people who use their phone before bed take longer to wake up in the morning and don’t feel like they have had a restful sleep. People who read a book before going to bed often wake up more alert and refreshed
Feeling less alert and tired can take some people a day to get over and the tiredness can enter a vicious repeating cycle.
Obesity, Diabetes, Dementia and Depression
It’s essential for good health to let the body restore and rest with good sleep. Lack of good quality sleep is a risk factor for obesity, diabetes, dementia and depression.
As phones in the bedroom seriously affect sleep it can potentially cause all of these. Without good sleep it seriously affects both physical and mental health.
Sleep deprivation has been linked with metabolic disease and increased appetite leading to weight gain.
The hormone melatonin also acts as an antioxidant that helps your body attack abnormal cell growth. A reduced amount of melatonin does increase your risk for cancer and reduce your immune system.
If you melatonin levels are interrupted for one night it isn’t a risk. However if you habitually use your phone at night there is a significant increase in risk.
Tips to Reduce Damage From Phone Usage
- Always use a blue light filter on devices that kicks in after sunset. This is built into many operating systems now.
- Avoid using anything with a screen an hour before bedtime.
- Keep your phone out of the bedroom and set yourself a ban from ever using in bed unless there’s an emergency.
This article is about phone usage in the bedroom but the same rules apply to tablets and televisions. All devices with a screen in the bedroom can be harmful for sleep. At the end of the day, a bedroom is for sleeping and having sex in and it’s good to have boundaries.
The studies linked here were done exclusively on adults however it’s believed screen time can be just as damaging for children, if not more.
We as a society are addicted to our phones and this is affecting our health. It’s all too easy to carry on using our phone from the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep. Just avoiding using your phone in the bedroom can help your physical and mental health.
It might be difficult to not use a phone in the bedroom if you are used to it, but I urge you to try for at least a week to ban it from your bed or bedroom. Sleep is so vital for overall health.
Have you had any other benefits from avoiding using a phone in the bedroom? Let me know in the comments below.
Do Smartphones Sabotage Sleep?
Why Sleeping With Your Phone Might be a Bad Idea
Not many people are in the habit of drinking coffee before bed for fear of tossing and turning. But the more common habit of checking your phone or tablet before bed may be just as disruptive to sleep patterns as the jolt you’d get from all that caffeine.
While caffeine’s effects on delaying sleep are widely known, it may be surprising to learn that the effects of your favorite technology are approximately twice as harmful as an evening cup of Joe.
Blue Light Technology
Smartphones, tablets and laptops all emit bright blue light so you can see them even when it’s sunny. The problem is that blue light could be keeping you up at night by suppressing your brain’s production of melatonin, a hormone that helps with sleep timing and circadian rhythms.
Blue light isn’t new, but in nature it is most abundant in the morning hours, which signals the brain it’s time to wake up and be alert. On the other hand, red light, which is emitted when the sun sets, signals that it is time to go to sleep.
When you use smartphones and other blue-light-emitting technology, like laptops or tablets, right before bed, your body’s cues to go to sleep are delayed. This, in turn, throws off your natural sleep-wake cycles.
The Health Risks
Feeling groggy isn’t the only negative affect of losing sleep from tech toys like smartphones. Night time light, and the poor sleep associated with it, has been linked to various health risks, including:
- Mood problems, including anxiety and depression
- Increased risk of accidents
- Impaired memory and ability to learn
- Heart attack
- Obesity and type-2 diabetes
- Various cancers
What You Can Do
While ditching all technology after the sun sets might not be an option for many people, there are little things you can do to limit your exposure to blue light in the evenings and sleep better.
- Avoid your smartphone, tablet or laptop beginning two to three hours before bed. If you use your phone as an alarm clock, set it once and keep it out of reach from your bed.
- Use orange or red reading lamps for night lights.
- Keep your bedroom completely dark, or use a sleep mask.
- Expose yourself to natural light as much as you can throughout the day. This can help you stay alert during the day and increase your ability to sleep at night.
- Survey reveals that nearly three in four adults bring their phone to bed with them.
- More than a third of Americans say their sex life has suffered as a result of smartphones in the bedroom.
- A quarter of respondents admit the last thing they see before closing their eyes at night is their phone, not their partner.
NEW YORK — The bedroom is traditionally used for two primary purposes for adults: sleeping and romance. However, the advent of smartphones has seemingly changed that, with nearly three quarters of surveyed Americans admitting they bring their phone to bed with them. Unsurprisingly, all of that between the sheet screen time is having an adverse effect on many people’s relationships.
The survey, commissioned by global tech solutions company Asurion, polled 2,000 Americans on their phone habits, and found that people who regularly bring their phone to bed are two times more likely to use their device than engage in romantic activity with their partner during the hour before they fall asleep.
In fact, among respondents, phone time was the number one activity listed for their last hour spent awake each night. Another 25% of respondents say the last thing they see each night before closing their eyes is their phone, not their spouse or loved one.
All of that phone time is undoubtedly impacting couples’ communication patterns. Respondents spend an average of three nights per week watching separate screens while in bed. Interestingly, 55% of respondents say they realize that the are missing out on quality time with their loved ones by staring at their phone so often, and 35% even admit that their sex life has suffered.
On a positive note, one third of surveyed couples say they have at least discussed and acknowledged the need to get off their phones more often while in bed.
“The survey reveals that phones aren’t just changing how we socialize and stay connected, they’re influencing how we relate to each other in our closest relationships,” says Bettie Colombo, Asurion spokesperson, in a statement.
The survey also revealed that the average adult living with a significant other brings their phone to bed four nights per week, and spends about 40 minutes on the device each night before falling asleep.
Even when it is time to go to sleep, 93% of American sleep with their phone within arm’s reach, and almost 10% sleep with their phone under the pillow! Much of this behavior seems to be due to people’s need to be connected at all times, with 73% of respondents saying they feel inclined to be on their phone at all hours of the day and night.
In all, 51% of respondents say they are interested in developing a better phone-life balance in their day-to-day routines.
A few tips for getting off your phone at night:
- Put your phone on its charger 30 minutes before bedtime after setting alarms
- Customize your Do Not Disturb settings to only allow important or urgent calls and notifications during the evenings and at bedtime.
- Initiate ‘good-bye’ messages when texting or messaging others earlier to avoid staying up too late.
The survey was conducted by OnePoll.
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