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Don’t Sleep With Your Phone, or Put it in Airplane Mode

Don’t Sleep With Your Phone, or Put it in Airplane Mode

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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 of sleep, don’t sleep with your phone in your bedroom.

Which brings us to SYB Healthy Living Tip #78. Here, we’ll address what you can do to get a better night’s sleep naturally.

Healthy Living Tip #78: Don't Sleep With Your Phone

How Many People Sleep With their Phone?

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 Phone?

There are many reasons that people sleep with their phones. Here are a few of the most common reasons.

Alarm Clocks

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.

Featured Video: SYB Healthy Living Tip #78: Don’t Sleep With Your Phone

Tech Addiction

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.

In fact, it’s been reported in the UK that more and more people are being admitted to hospitals with phone-addiction-related conditions.

And even if we’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 us 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.

Featured Infographic: Don't Sleep With Your Phone
Featured Infographic: Click to download full size image.

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 Health, “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 the 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.

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. 

Here’s Dr. Oz: “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.”

The blue light from your digital screens tricks 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.

The Mirror UK, in their recent article, said that not only has the number of patients with insomnia trebled in just five years, but that insomniacs are also entering hospitals with other conditions – such as high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, or a stroke – only to then mention that they have trouble sleeping.

Lack of adequate sleep has this kind of effect on human health, and these conditions can worsen over time. And experts point to the night-use of smartphones as a big contributor to this problem. (We have a separate post explaining more about why quality sleep is important and how you can create a sleep sanctuary at home.)

The Mirror article also mentions that the “strain on shift workers has added to the toll of insomniacs too. NHS data for England show there were 15,245 cases last year – up 18% on the 12,894 in 2018.”

Most shift workers have to be in front of a screen all night, which unbalances their circadian rhythms leading towards various sleep-related health issues.

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 do 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. This is because your mind – consciously or not – is thinking about the possibility of notifications. Part of you is listening for an alert or an update and 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 won’t 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 phones before bed.

Fire Risk

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. There’s simply no doubt that sleeping with your phone charging next to you is a bad idea.

Best Options to Avoid Sleeping With Your Phone

You might ask: ‘How can I avoid phone radiation while sleeping?’ Good news is, there’s a number of 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’ll 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 social media, 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.

In short, ceasing use of tech an hour or two before bed will help calm you down and prepare you for a night of deep and restorative sleep.

So how to stop using your phone before bed? Replace your tech use with another positive activity: talk with your family, read a book, listen to music… You’ll notice the difference almost immediately.

Sleep With Your Phone in Another Room

Another way to avoid radiation from cell phones at night is to put your phone in another room while you sleep. 

For example, you can plug your phone in to charge in the kitchen overnight. (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 so you’ll hear it.

Purchase a Simple, Battery Powered Alarm Clock

A simple alarm clock emits virtually no EMF

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 pose a risk to your health.

So all of that fancy sleep tracking technology actually harms your sleep. Avoid using it.

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 in an emergency), 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 called ‘night mode’. This changes the color of your display to significantly reduce the blue light emissions from your phone. You can even set your phone to automatically enter night mode on a schedule.

On Apple devices it’s called ‘Night Shift’. Here’s 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’s how to enable it 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.

What About EMF Shielding Products?

SYB Angled Acrylic Table Top Picture Frame to Shield EMF Radiation, Holds Two 5"x7" Photos
The SYB Picture Frame is a great fall-back option to reduce your night time exposure to EMF radiation.

If none of the above options is feasible for you and you need your phone on and close to 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. The SYB Picture Frame is designed to sit on your nightstand, and offers EMF bedroom protection without interfering with your phone use!

Most of our EMF shielding products – like our SYB Phone Pouch and our SYB Baby Blankets – are in high demand as they offer protection from wireless devices while they’re in use.

But what about the rest of the time? As I discussed earlier in this post, as long as your phone is on, it’s emitting various types of EMF radiation – even if you’re not actively using it. For example, while you sleep.

That’s where our SYB Picture Frame comes in.

Made right here in the USA, the SYB Picture Frame is exactly what it sounds like: an attractive 5×7”, semi-transparent picture frame. You can insert a picture onto each side of the frame, and it’s light, portable, slim, and self-supporting.

Oh, and it shields you from EMF radiation at all times. Let’s look at an example.

Just put your favorite photos in the frame, and place it on your nightstand. 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.

And because you put in your own favorite photographs, you won’t even know there’s a powerful EMF shielding device there protecting you from harm.

How can a picture frame block EMF radiation?

Here at Shield Your Body, it’s our goal to help you protect yourself from harmful wireless radiation, and all of our products contribute to that goal. Within each picture frame there is a finely-woven mesh of nickel and copper-coated polyester. This forms a barrier which deflects up to 99% of incident radiation.

Let’s think of the EMF radiation as light. During the day, light streams through a window, just like wireless radiation does from your Wi-Fi router. However, if I close the curtain, the light simply doesn’t get into the house. Our SYB Picture Frame performs the exact same job, halting (and actually deflecting) any radiation in its path.

The great thing about this product is that your phone still works perfectly. We could lock it in a metal safe when not in use, but as well as being incredibly impractical, your phone would stop working. Our Picture Frame only blocks radiation in one specific direction, which makes it ideal for providing EMF protection anywhere you need it – like on your nightstand, where it can protect you from your cell phone’s radiation emissions as you sleep.

Other Healthy Living Tips for Improved Sleep

We have dozens of tips on how to live a life that’s healthier and 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 of 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 level of 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.

Learn More >

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.

Learn More >

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!

Learn More >

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. In turn, this reduces your risk of multiple negative health effects – from relatively minor ones 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.

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’ll feel healthier and happier.

This is yet another reason why I always tell people the best EMF protection is free.

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About the Author

Have a Question?

I take pride in designing great, effective products, based on real, measurable science – AND taking the time to ensure that each and every one of you has the information you need to understand EMF and make informed decisions.

So if you have a question, just email me and ask.


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