Sleeping with your phone is a great way to ensure you’ll never miss a call, text, email, Facebook update, or BuzzFeed news flash. It’s also a great way to ruin a good night’s sleep. So to get a better night sleep naturally, don’t sleep with your phone in your bedroom.
Which brings us to SYB Healthy Living Tip #78, to help answer you the question “how to get a better night sleep naturally?”
How Many Sleep With their Phones
A staggering number of Americans— including children— sleep with their phones. According to a 2015 survey from Bank of America, “71 percent of survey respondents say they sleep with or next to their smartphones”.
And the younger you are, the more likely you are to engage in this risky behavior. In 2010, Pew Research concluded that “nearly all young adults (ages 18-29) make sure their phones are never too far away at night; fully 90% sleep with their cell phone on or right next to their bed.”
You read that right; 90%! Nine out of every 10 Americans aged 18-29 sleep with their phone in or next to their bed.
So, approximately seven in 10 Americans, and nine in 10 young Americans, sleep with their phone.
That’s a huge number of us who sleep with our phones at night.
Why do People Sleep With Their Phones?
There are many reasons that people sleep with their phones. Here are a few of the most common reasons.
One simple, obvious and practical reason that many people sleep with their phones is that so many us use our cell phones as alarm clocks.
To Be and Feel Connected
For some people, cell phones are their only phones. So they keep their phones on and nearby so that people can reach them, especially in an emergency.
Others are addicted, scrolling through social media, playing Candy Crush or watching Netflix until they – eventually – fall asleep.
Whether they realize it or not, many people are actually addicted to their tech. Tech addiction is a real, and increasing, problem. And even if you’re not ‘addicted’, many of us still feel a compulsion to stay connected through our phones and digital devices.
These devices, and the apps and experiences they run, have been designed from the ground up to keep you psychologically engaged. And they do a very good job of it.
But when it’s time to go to sleep, it’s harmful to keep being exposed to this entertainment, information and stimulus.
Cell Phones Emit Harmful Radiation
Cell phones, like all wireless technology, are able to communicate by sending and receiving a form of radiation called EMF, or electromagnetic radiation. In fact, your cell phone isn’t just a source of EMF radiation– it’s actually several sources of radiation. The cell signal, the wifi, the bluetooth, the GPS– each of these are different sources of EMF radiation emitted by your phone when it’s on.
EMF is invisible, which is part of why it’s so easy to ignore. But if you could visualize EMF radiation that emanates from your cell phone, you’d be amazed at how much of it there is.
And according to Dr. Joel Moskowitz, a cell phone radiation expert from UC Berkeley’s School of Public, “currently, we’re not doing a good job in regulating radiation from these devices. In fact, we’re doing an abysmal job.”
This is what has led the California Department of Public Health to warn people against sleeping with their phones, in their first ever guidelines for cell phone usage.
Health Risks of Sleeping With Your Phone
Cell Phone Radiation
So why would an increasing number of authorities, including the California Department of Public Health, warn against sleeping with your phone?
Because there are a lot of health risks associated with exposure to cell phone radiation. Thousands of peer-reviewed scientific studies from around the world have linked this type of radiation with numerous negative health outcomes, including cancer, infertility, and sleep disruption.
Sleeping with your phone next to your bed exposes your head and body to EMF radiation all night long. For most people that’s 6 to 9 hours, or 25% to 38% of your life where you are needlessly being exposed to cell phone radiation.
And the more you are exposed to this type of radiation, the more your health risks increase.
The American Cancer Institute warns of several studies that show that cell phone radiation can contribute to the growth and development of multiple types of tumors, and the World Health Organization lists cell phone radiation as a Class 2B Carcinogen.
And it’s not just brain tumors. Science has demonstrated links between exposure to cell phone radiation and the development of skin cancer and testicular cancer.
As ABC warns:
the World Health Organization warned in 2011 that usage may be possibly carcinogenic to humans, especially in children, whose scalps and skulls are thinner than adults’, and more vulnerable to radiation. So if you’re at all worried about the possible cancer risk, try to text instead of call, hold the phone away from your ear, or use an earpiece or the speakerphone setting as much as possible—and definitely don’t sleep with the phone next to your head.
And as CBS reports:
Some people are so attached to their cell phones that they sleep with them on their nightstand or even under their pillow. Bad idea. Cell phones pump out electromagnetic radiation whenever they’re on – which means sleeping with one nearby boosts your exposure all night long. What to do? Put the phone on “airplane mode” (which shuts down the transceiver) or turn it off. If you need to be available for calls, place the phone several feet away from your bed.
And HuffPost informs us:
And a review of studies by the International Agency for Research on Cancer found that such transmissions were “possibly carcinogenic,” and that risk becomes far more relevant during the times you’re holding the phone to your body. The risk is minimal and insignificant when the phone is disconnected from WiFi — or better yet, turned off completely — but let’s face it, most people who sleep with their phones don’t do so with it in airplane mode.
Sleep Disruption from EMF
There are two main forces that link cell phones and sleep deprivation.
The first is EMF radiation. There are many cell phone radiation effects on human body. Among them, there is a large and growing body of scientific evidence that cell phone radiation disrupts sleep.
As CNET explains:
research suggests that cell phone radiation can interfere with your sleep, which makes the argument for keeping your phone farther away from you while you sleep more compelling.
And Dr. Oz warns that “there’s evidence that cellphone abuse is associated with sleep disturbances because their blue light restricts production of melatonin, which regulates your body’s internal clock.”
In one 2008 scientific study performed in Sweden and at Wayne State University, researchers showed that those who used their phones for more than three hours before bed experienced measurable disruption in their sleep, as well as diminished mental acuity and concentration ability.
Sleeping with your cell phone in your bedroom significantly increases your exposure to this type of radiation– and especially sleeping with a cell phone near your head.
Sleep Disruption from Blue Light
The other sleep disrupting force emitted by cell phones is called blue light.
Blue light is, as its name suggests, a type of light in the blue segment of the color spectrum. And it mimics daylight.
Almost all digital screens (from your smart phones, tablets, computers and TVs) emit a large amount of blue light. So when we look at all our device screens at night, it tricks our bodies into thinking it’s daytime.
Scientific studies have demonstrated that this type of light disrupts our circadian rhythms, correlates to suppressed levels of melatonin (which regulates the circadian rhythm), and contributes to insomnia.
The blue light from your digital screens fakes the body into thinking it’s morning, when really it’s nighttime and you should be getting ready to fall asleep. People who already have difficulty falling asleep, such as those with insomnia, are even more susceptible to this effect.
Interrupted Sleep from Compulsive Checking & Notifications
“Checking your phone stimulates the brain so we are more active and awake,” says Dr. Harneet Walia from the Cleveland Clinic. “Even just a quick check can engage your brain and prolong sleep.”
When you have your phone in bed with you, it’s natural to feel the compulsion to check the news, or your social feeds. And this makes it harder to fall asleep.
It also makes it harder to fall back asleep if you wake up in the middle of the night. Many of us wake up in the night, whether to go to the bathroom, or maybe for no real reason at all. If you have your phone next to you, it’s easy to succumb to the desire to load up Facebook or BuzzFeed and doing a little checking in on the world. This makes it much harder to fall back asleep– especially if you read something exciting or upsetting.
If your phone isn’t nearby, you’re much more likely to close your eyes and go back to sleep.
All those notifications from your phone can also contribute to interrupted sleep, waking you up in the middle of the night with updates and news and information– all of which can wait until morning.
In fact, you don’t even need to actually receive notifications from your device in order to experience disrupted sleep. Because your mind is thinking about the possibility of notifications. Part of you is listening for an alert or an update– expecting one at any minute– which further contributes to poor sleep.
This will fragment your sleep quality and leave you feeling more tired when you eventually wake up.
Between the negative effects of EMF, blue light, and the distraction of information and notifications, it should not surprise you that the most common advice given to people who have trouble falling asleep, aside from staying away from caffeine, is to power off electronic gadgets and to stop using your phone before bed.
It may be difficult to believe, but there have been multiple reports of phones exploding or setting ablaze in bed. (There’s a reason airlines no longer allow you to put lithium ion batteries in checked baggage.)
One 14 year old girl slept on top of her phone and then died when her phone exploded under her pillow, after she had fallen asleep with it charging.
Another 13 year old Texas teen’s cell phone caught on fire while she was sleeping, after her battery overheated.
And a Malaysian woman reported that her phone exploded in bed.
These are just three examples. If you search the news, you’ll find many more, going back years.
Because of an increasing number of incidents like these, even the New York Police Department (NYPD) wants you to stop putting your cell phone under your pillow. Because it is bad to sleep with your phone charging next to you.
Best Options to Make it Easier Not to Sleep With Your Phone
‘How can I avoid phone radiation while sleeping?’ There are many options.
Stop Using Electronics One to Two Hours Before Bed
If you stop using your phone and other high tech devices one to two hours before bed, you will cut off your exposure to EMF radiation and blue light for a healthy amount of time, as your body prepares to fall asleep.
It will also weaken the compulsion to check email, check your friends on Facebook, or play Candy Crush. Activities such as these stimulate the compulsion to stay connected, which will cut in on your sleep time and contribute to sleep deprivation.
Ceasing use of tech two hours before bed will will help calm you down and prepare you for when it’s time to go to sleep. How to stop using your phone at night? Instead, talk with your family, read a book, listen to music. You’ll notice the difference almost immediately.
Sleep With Your Phone in Another Room
One great habit to form to avoid radiation from cell phones and its other health risks is to put your phone in another room while you sleep.
For example, you can plug your phone in the kitchen to charge overnight when you go to bed. (This habit also makes it much safer to charge your phone, as the exploding phone examples above, show.)
If you need to be able to be reached in an emergency, turn your ringer volume up high so you’ll hear it.
Purchase a Simple, Battery Powered Alarm Clock
If you rely on your phone as an alarm clock, it’s easy to replace that with an old-school alarm clock.
Why do I say it should be battery powered? Because we tend to keep our alarm clocks near our heads. And the alarm clocks that plug into AC power from your wall outlet can conduct a large amount of EMF radiation, including dirty electricity.
Also, avoid the models with red LED displays, as those can be a very large source of EMF.
A simple, very inexpensive low EMF alarm clock like this one is a great option.
Stop Using Sleep Tracking Apps
All of these sleep tracking apps require the use of connected devices and wireless radiation to function– which, as I’ve said, will disrupt your sleep and is a risk to your health.
So all this fancy sleep tracking technology actually harms your sleep. Don’t use them.
Options If You Need Your Phone in Your Room
There are people who, for one reason or another, need to keep their phones in their bedroom at night. If this is you, there are still steps you can take to improve your sleep quality and health, even when you feel the need to keep your phone with you when you go to bed.
Turn Your Phone into Airplane Mode – and Don’t Charge It
If you sleep with your phone in your bedroom, then the best way to reduce your exposure to EMF radiation from your device is to turn on airplane mode. Sleeping with your phone on airplane mode will almost completely eliminate your phone’s harmful EMF radiation emissions.
And make sure that you are not charging your phone while you sleep.
Keep Your Phone At Least 4-6 Feet Away From Your Body
If airplane mode isn’t an option for you (for example, if you’re a doctor on-call, or you need to be available for an emergency call), then keep your phone at a safer distance while you sleep.
How far away should your phone be when you sleep? I recommend that you ensure your phone is at least 4 to 6 feet away from your body while you sleep.
Turn Your Phone into ‘Night’ Mode
You may not realize it, but all modern cell phones include something call ‘night mode’. This changes the color of your display, to significantly reduce the blue light emissions from your phone. And, you can even set your phone to automatically enter night mode on a schedule.
On the iPhone it is called it is called ‘Night Shift’ and here is how to enable night shift on iPhones and iPads:
- Open Control Center. Firmly press the Brightness control icon, then tap to turn Night Shift on or off. Or,
- Go to Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift. On the same screen, you can schedule a time for Night Shift to turn on automatically and adjust color temperature.
On Android, this mode is called ‘night mode’ and here is how to enable night mode on Android phones and tablets:
- Open the Settings app. Select “Display.” Select “Night Light.” You should now be able to activate Night Light mode, set times, and more.
Use a EMF Shielding Protection Device
If all of the above options are not feasible for you, for one reason or another, and you need your phone on and close by your body while you sleep, you can consider purchasing an EMF radiation protection shield.
Here at SYB we offer the SYB Picture Frame, which is a great option to reduce your exposure to your phone’s EMF radiation while you sleep if you need your phone nearby.
Just put your favorite photos in the frame, and place it on your night stand. Then, when you’re ready to go to sleep, put your phone behind the frame. The frame will deflect your cell phone’s radiation away from your body while you sleep.
Other Healthy Living Tips for Improved Sleep
Here at SYB we offer dozens of tips on how to live healthier, with less exposure to harmful EMF radiation.
If you’re looking for more ways to improve your sleep naturally, here are a few of our tips that will help you get a better night sleep.
1) SYB Healthy Living Tip #28: Turn Off Your WiFi at Night
WiFi routers are a relatively significant source of EMF radiation exposure in many homes. And most people keep their routers on 24 hours a day– leading to a significant cumulative non-stop exposure. So one way to make a massive reduction in your EMF exposure is to turn off your WiFi router at night.
2) SYB Healthy Living Tip #23: Keep All Electronics (not just cell phones) Out of the Bedroom
Your bedroom should be a peaceful and serene area. After all, sleep is crucial for your overall health. That’s why it’s so important to keep electronics out of your bedroom – electronics can be an unnecessary distraction that disrupts your sleep habits.
3) SYB Healthy Living Tip #32: Don’t Sleep on a Metal Coil Mattress
EMF exposure can come from many sources throughout your home such as your cellphone and tablet. But did you know that your box spring or mattress can expose you to EMF radiation? It’s like laying on a radiation antenna!
These Changes Will Make a REAL Difference
Because of how long each of us spend in bed each night, cutting your exposure to cell phone EMF radiation while you sleep makes a huge difference in your radiation exposure, thus reducing your risk for multiple negative health effects from the relatively minor like sleep disruption, all the way up to cancer and infertility.
This isn’t speculation. This is real, established science. Having a cell phone on, in your bedroom, will negative impair the quality and quantity of your sleep. For improved sleep, don’t sleep with your phone near you.
And if you make changes like the ones in this post you’ll start to see an improvement in your sleep immediately. And while some of it may feel like a significant change to your behavior, I can assure you that once you develop these habits, it will feel natural and easy, and you will feel healthier and happier.
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