If you are like most people, the last thing you look at before going to sleep (and the first thing you see when you wake up may be your phone.
You might want to understand how this might impact your ability to sleep and contribute and the potential harmful effects to keeping a phone near you in bed.
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. 44% of cell phone owners have fallen asleep with their phone next to their bed to make sure they didn’t miss any crucial calls or texts, according to the Pew Internet Project. But while you may have good intentions, snuggling up to your phone could be hazardous to your health.
Some people are so attached to their cell phones that they sleep with them on their nightstand or even under their pillow. However, this is a terrible idea because mobile phones pump out electromagnetic radiation whenever they’re on, which means sleeping with one nearby boosts your exposure all night long.
In order to minimize those risks, place the phone on “airplane mode” or turn it off.
If you need to be available for calls, put the phone several feet away from your bed.
1. You could set your pillow on fire
A Texas teen recently woke up to a burning smell because her Samsung Galaxy S4, which was under her pillow, had melted and it burnt her sheets and mattres. It was revealed that her non-Samsung replacement phone battery was to blame: the phone’s instruction manual warns against using incompatible cell phone batteries and chargers.
The manual also notes that there’s a risk of a fire if the gadget is covered by bedding or other thick material. Bottom line: Stick to phone accessories from the original manufacturer, and don’t leave your cell on your bed.
2. You could keep yourself awake
Mobile phones, tablets, TVs, and other gadgets with LED screens give off what’s known as blue light, which can inhibit the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin and disrupt our circadian rhythms.
This may be because blue light emits wavelengths similar to daylight, which can make our body think it’s daytime, at any time. To fall asleep when you want to, power down all electronics two hours before bedtime. Even better, keep your phone and laptop in another room while you slumber.
3. The health risks of cell phones are murky
There’s been no research that proves cell phone use causes cancer however, in general, cell phones are said to give off such a small dose of electromagnetic radiation, which is also emitted from X-rays and microwaves and can lead to tumor growth in high amounts, that they’re perfectly safe to handle.
However, 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.
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 and definitely don’t sleep with the phone next to your head.
Changes to make with your mobile phone at night
According the Verywell health, these are the steps you need to take in order to minimise your mobile phone health risks:
Place the phone to charge in the kitchen. Allow yourself to go to bed without your phone. If there is an emergency, you will learn about it in the morning. By removing the phone from the bedroom, and placing it to charge in another room such as the kitchen, it is possible to reduce its impact on your sleep.
Get an alarm clock instead of using your phone’s alarm. Although phones can do a lot, sometimes the trade-off of intrusion for convenience is simply not worth it. Buy an inexpensive alarm clock if you need one to wake in the morning on time. Put it across the room and set it to the time you need to get up. As much as possible, don’t look at the clock or check the time at night. If you absolutely must use your phone as your alarm clock (perhaps while traveling), set it to airplane or night mode to reduce disruptions and place it out of reach.
Turn off the sleep-tracking apps: Some people use their phones as a way to track sleep and wake patterns with various apps or even wearable technology. The accuracy of correlating movement to wakefulness and stillness to sleep is highly suspect. Moreover, there is no reason to carefully document every movement (or associated awakening) during the night. It may be disruptive to overanalyze sleep.
Preserve a buffer zone and minimize light at night: Try to protect the last hour (or two) before your bedtime as a time to relax and prepare for sleep. Enjoy some time spent reading, watching television or a movie, or listening to music. Reduce your eye’s exposure to direct light. As able, switch any close screens to night mode (reducing blue light). If you are especially sensitive to light at night, consider eliminating it as much as possible.
Optimize the sleep environment. Consider other ways that you might enhance your bedroom to make it the ultimate sleep sanctuary. Go to bed when you feel sleepy. If you are awake for longer than 20 minutes at night, get up and do something relaxing and return to bed when feeling sleepy. If you are awake towards morning, you might get up and start your day early. Reserve the bed as a space for sleep and sex alone. By making these changes, you will improve the association of the bed as a place for sleep.