Written by: Pieter de Jong
Almost everyone has a smartphone nowadays. Almost everyone has heard it’s probably a bad idea to sleep while their smartphone is anywhere near them. Almost everyone uses their smartphone right before they go to bed and right after they wake up, this number accounts for up to 71% of smartphone users according to Bank of America. The percentage of people using their smartphone in the hour before going to bed is about 90%. Why is this? Why can’t people just leave their phones alone and enjoy a good nights of sleep?
13% of people even sleep with their smartphone in their beds, including me. Now I don’t mind, I don’t think I am depraved of sleep at all. But I do know that before I go to bed, I’ll check the latest international news and to make sure I’m not missing any of my messages as well. And when I wake up, even if it’s for a second during the night, I’ll check if I have any notifications from the big news sites again. The most stupid thing is that I am easily capable of not looking at my phone once in between waking up and going to bed. I also do not use my smartphone as an alarm clock.
The reasons to not use your smartphone right before bed are numerous, first of all the blue light that emits from your screen makes your brain think daylight is shining upon you, therefore waking you up. Also, interacting with other people or news right before you go to bed or in the middle of the night, sets your mood, whether that is to be energetic, anxious or annoyed, it interferes with your ability to fall asleep (again) properly. Besides this research shows that the proper part of sleeping, REM, actually becomes much shorter when using a smartphone right before going to bed.
Besides the obvious problems surrounding sleeping, using your smartphone when it’s dark and while in bed could have some other negative implications. According to numeral studies, the constant stream of light can damage your retina’s, resulting in worse vision over the years. Also, using a smartphone in bed can put your body in positions that increase back- and neck pain. Being deprived of sleep also increases the possibility of depression, anxiety, obesity and poor performance in schools.
According to research done at the University of San Diego teens sleep way less compared to earlier times and most of this is influenced by their heavily increased smartphone usage. As a solution they conclude: “What can be done? Later start times at high schools have significant positive impacts on teen sleep, but school start times aren’t something parents and teens can control”. So the solution for using your smartphone before bed is not to ditch that smartphone, but to try to make schools start at a later time. Right.
Most sites and researches that know anything about sleeping will tell you to turn off your smartphone before you go to bed or to get it as far away from you as possible. Clearly they are activating you both physically and psychologically in a moment in which you should be in a state of pure tranquillity. As a substitute for using your smartphone sleep-experts (wish I was one) recommend you reading a book, but that won’t give us the latest information, right? According to numerous researchers, ditching your phone even half an hour before going to bed, might help a lot.
Using smartphones in bed is something they were partially made for according to what I believe, they are made to constantly make sure you engage in whatever they have on offer, which is why people use them even in bed. It clearly does deprave people of sleep, but most of them keep using their smartphone in and around their bed.
How far away is your smartphone when you are ‘asleep’? I sure know I won’t do anything with the information shared within this blog.
I found this blogpost very interesting, mainly because a few years ago I was also told I shouldn’t keep my phone too close when I’m sleeping because the radiation would affect your health. Even though I am not sure whether this is scientifically correct, I always kept this in mind and for this reason I never keep my phone in my bed when I am sleeping and I try to put my phone as far away as possible from my bed. However, “as far away as possible” in my case is probably still too close, as I do want to keep my phone nearby since I use it as an alarm. So, even though I am aware of the negative impacts of keeping your phone nearby or checking it right before sleeping, I don’t stop doing these things. I will always check my alarm right before going to bed. Still, I do think it is important for everyone to know about the side effects of doing these things. Thank you for sharing this knowledge! I will however probably keep checking my phone right before going to sleep…
I fully agree to everything you said and find all the things you found out very intersting. Also, nice amount of links in the text!
I use to have an app that reduces the blue light, since I felt this was the really stressing part about using a phone in the dark and before sleeping. Many phones also have a black and white mode, which I think is also really cool for when you do not want to look at colorful images.
My phone is usually a few steps away from me, I tend to misplace it and then stop carring. I think that with the increased use of online tools etc. for our whole life (like online uni), the same discussion will soon be held for laptops.
Thanks for sharing these multiple insights!
I also agree with what you have mentioned in this article, since smartphone addiction is getting more real each day. However, unfortunately, I also think that we reach out to the point where it is highly difficult to change our behaviour since smartphones have significant functions in our daily lives at this point: we set up our alarm clocks to wake up on time and we use it as the main communication tool.
Another aspect I liked is the title you used; it is really engaging and creative. I feel like it also somewhat represents ow we replaced some part of our personal communications with smart phones.