How Your Phone Affects Your Sleep

Most of us love using the phone at night before sleep. Moreover, we usually don’t separate with our gadgets even when we snooze, keeping them next to us or even under the pillow! We never shut down or log off and always stay connected – this is the best part about technology. However, the study shows that frequent or excessive use of electronic gadgets during bedtime impacts adversely not only the quality of sleep but also the overall health.

A man using a phone in bed

So, let’s dig a bit deeper and sheed some light on how increased usage of the smartphone before/in bed influences your wellbeing. You’ll also find here ground rules and well-tried tips on how to establish good sleep habits.

Using the Phone at Night Keeps you More Active & Awake

Like to jump into bed and open up your phone or other screens? Think it helps you relax? Wrong! The truth is that scrolling through Instagram, responding to messages or even just a quick check stimulates your brain and keeps you psychologically engaged, hence, it’ll take you longer to fall asleep and reduce total sleep time. That’s why phone usage in bed is considered one of the erratic sleep habits and, according to research, can lead to insomnia, daytime sleepiness, and other issues.

It Reduces Your REM Sleep

REM sleep stands for rapid eye movement – the stage of sleep when eyes move around rapidly in a range of directions but don’t send any visual information to the brain. This stage is crucial for the restoration of the body and mind. REM is tied to learning, creative and problem-solving skills; it’s also associated with increased production of proteins. If you don’t get enough REM sleep, you can feel dizzy and have difficulties with concentration the next day.

When you are using your phone in bed, its alerting properties trigger various emotions, thoughts, and even anxiety. It can leave you wide awake for hours and consequently delays REM sleep.

It Suppresses Melatonin Secretion and Messes up your Circadian Clock Rhythm

All screens, including smartphones, emit artificial blue light that is bad not only for vision but also for the brain at nighttime. Blue light mimics daylight, and if it shines directly in your eyes when it’s time to snooze, it leaves you alert and awake. Furthermore, blue light suppresses melatonin – a hormone that helps maintain a proper circadian rhythm and promotes deep, restorative sleep. If the body runs low on melatonin, you may feel tired and irritated during the next day.

A woman asleep

Do avoid late sleeping habits like using the phone or other screens since it disrupts your body’s internal clock and rhythm, leading to insomnia, mood swings, metabolism problems, increased risk of developing diabetes, or even cancer.

It Creates a Sense of Hypervigilance

If you leave your phone close to you while you’re sleeping, it creates a sense of hypervigilance. In other words, you are constantly alert for emails, text messages, or calls whether you realize it or not. This consistent tension prevents your body from achieving the desired state of total relaxation and can even provoke awakening.

So, if you’re used to keeping your phone under your pillow, it’s time to change this sleeping habit and place your gadget in the night or airplane mode. However, the best solution will be to remove the phone from your bedroom.

Healthy Sleeping Habits for Technology Users

If you still can’t separate with your screen when it’s time for bed, consider some ground rules for nighttime technology users that will help you develop good sleep habits.

Develop a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

Researches discovered that irregular sleep habits can lead to anxiety, insomnia, and other big health issues like high blood pressure, increased cholesterol, obesity, etc. So, experts recommend cutting off the screen time 1 hour before hitting the hay and choose activities that promote sleep, e.g. having a hot bath, listening to relaxing music, reading a paper book, etc. You’ll see how much sleepier you feel and how quickly you fall asleep.

Minimize Light at Night

Decrease your eyes’ exposure to any light: dim the light in the room and switch screens to night mode. If you are too sensitive to light, consider wearing sleeping masks.

A woman wearing a sleep mask

Enhance Your Sleep Environment

Optimize your bedroom to make it the ultimate sleep sanctuary. You should associate it with love, comfort, rest, and sleep. Use shades or heavy curtains to block the light from the window. Remove any electronics, sports equipment, and even gym clothing – everything that can remind you about various daytime activities. Your bedroom must be a comfortable and relaxing place perfect to catch Zzzs.

Go to Bed Without Your Phone

As we touched on above, you should remove the phone not only from your bed but even from your bedroom! Place it to charge in another room, this way, you’ll reduce possible impacts on your sleep and overall health.

Invest in an Alarm Clock

Using an alarm clock is healthier than using the phone’s alarm. But if you still decide to use your smartphone to wake up in the morning, place it out of reach and make sure to set it to airplane or night mode to decrease sleep disruptions.

Conclusion

A smartphone is supposed to make your life easier and entertain you. However, what it really does at night before bed is exactly the opposite. The phone keeps you awake, delays REM sleep, and prevents you from having a peaceful, happy, and relaxing experience. That’s why you should establish good sleep habits. By doing these changes, you’ll optimize your ability to catch Zzzs and feel well-rested every morning.

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