Did you know that using your mobile phone before bed can lead to sleep deprivation? It’s estimated that approximately 64 percent of young people sleep with their mobile phones next to their beds. The young generations use their phones to do virtually anything these days. From chatting to checking emails to watching their favorite TV shows to playing games, smartphones have become an integral part of our daily lives. Most of us even use mobile phones as our alarm clocks. Sleep experts say that phone use before bed and when in bed negatively affects your sleep pattern. Having your phone close to bed increases the temptation of checking your social media regardless of what time it is. New evidence shows that the use of electronic devices such as tablets and mobile phones increase the risk of insomnia.
Cell Phones and Sleep
Your smartphone, tablet, TV, or laptop emit ‘blue light’ which is said to be the brightest and shortest wavelength. The light pierces your retina’s photoreceptors tricking the brain into thinking that it’s daylight.
The blue light affects the production of melatonin (a hormone that is triggered when you’re preparing to sleep). As a result, your brain feels energized. This confuses the brain, hence the lack of sleep. In a study to test the effects of blue light on sleep, a small group of 13 people was asked to use their smartphones. One group was given orange goggles which filters the blue light, another group used blue-light goggles, and the last group used their plain eyes. Results show that the group using the orange goggles had higher levels of melatonin hormones.
Additionally, mobile phones vibrate, beep, blink or ring when texts and calls come in. This startles you making it difficult to sleep. When your brain is stimulated, it interferes with your sleep habits, and if not controlled, the trend of using your phone before bedtime may become addictive. Our bodies require at least seven hours of sleep to fully recharge and rest. When you keep your phone close to you at night, you’re reducing the much needed hours of sleep.
Why You Should Stop Sleeping with Your Phone at Night
There are several reasons why sleeping with your phone at night is bad for your health. Normally, our bodies adapt to certain sleep patterns, and keeping your phone in the bedroom disrupts this pattern.
Phones Reduce the Quality of Sleep
When you keep your phone out of reach, the temptations of checking emails, chats or social media are greatly reduced. For instance, if you wake up and read something disturbing, exciting or annoying, you may find it difficult to fall asleep again. Phone vibrations, beeping, and ringing is meant to prompt your reaction. When used during the day, that’s okay. However, at night this will keep you awake. Sleep specialists encourage us to get enough quality sleep to prepare ourselves for the next day. There are concerns that the electromagnetic fields emitted by electronic devices can cause serious health risks such as brain tumors and infertility, especially in men whose reproductive organs are exposed.
You Put Yourself at Risk of Fire
Mobile devices can set your pillow and beddings on fire if placed under the pillow. The batteries can overheat and burn your pillow while you’re asleep and this could cause devastating results. It is safer to keep your phone out of the bedroom or turn it off completely.
Interferes with Your REM Sleep
REM sleep is a crucial phase of sleep that’s responsible for restoring your body and mind. It helps with your creative memory and enhances problem-solving skills of the brain. If REM is regularly disrupted and you don’t get enough of it, your concentration levels drop and you’ll have a difficult time catching up the next day.
Things You Can Do to Improve the Quality of Your Sleep
- Buy an alarm clock. Ditch using your phone’s alarm and get yourself a real alarm clock. It is less disruptive and with your phone out of sight, you can sleep peacefully.
- Set a no-screen time at least one hour before sleep time to relax your mind and reduce the effects of blue light on your eyes. Switch off the TV, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone as you prepare to sleep.
- Reserve your bedroom as a place for relaxation, sleep, and sex only. Let it be a no-screen room and switch off the lights to induce sleep. These simple lifestyle changes can dramatically change the way you sleep and improve your body’s and mind’s responsiveness.
Technology and Sleep
We all agree that technology is here to stay. We also need to understand that technology is stealing our privacy and becoming intrusive. Try as much as possible to create a sleep environment that’s free from all these devices. Most phones and laptops have night modes which limit your device’s blue light. The ‘yellow’ light is easy on your eyes and less likely to hurt your sleep patterns. All in all, it’s safer to turn off your smartphone or keep it out of the bedroom.