Life

Why You Shouldn’t Sleep with Your Phone

At least put it in airplane mode or toss it across the room

We know that scrolling can be a totally mindless way to fall asleep. Look at some random photos on Insta, read an article somewhere, take a quiz to learn what your cheese choices say about your love life, and before you know it, you're drifting softly to sleep. But, that probably also means your phone is your snuggle buddy. You might think it's totally fine, or that random alarm clock app might promise to wake you at the best time in your sleep cycle if you leave your phone under your pillow, but we are thinking that may not be the best idea for a couple of reasons.


The first has to do with electromagnetic fields (or EMFs). There is a lot of mixed research out there about the exact health impacts of EMFs and cell phones, but some recent ones have found that cell phones are linked to memory impairment and various cancers. One study found increased rates of rare brain and heart cancers in male rats exposed to very high levels of cell phone radiation(1). Rats are often used in scientific experiments to assess initial health effects because they have similar biology to humans but reproduce much more quickly. These findings don't exactly mean the health effects will be the same in humans, and we should note that the rats were getting a lot more cell time on older versions of phones (because it take a long time to do experiments like these and cell phone technology changes really fast!) than people normally would, but it's enough information to make us at least take pause.

That, combined with all the articles talking about blue light at night messing with sleep (2) and addiction to cell phones and mental health (3) are enough for us to take a few (easy!) precautions. The best thing to do would be to turn your phone all the way off at night, but since that feels like a no-go for most of us, we suggest either working up to leaving it across the room or in another part of your home at night or putting it in airplane mode on your nightstand.

If you need some extra encouragement and have bad cell signal at home, you can start by setting up a timer on your wireless router that will turn your wifi off from something like 11pm-6am or whatever feels like a good cut off times for you. Timers are easy to find online or in hardware stores and simple to set up. Or you could try putting your phone in airplane mode before you go to sleep. When it's in airplane mode, it's not trying to get any signal or emit as much EMF. Or if you're not into airplane mode for whatever reason (what about emergencies!?), try leaving your phone across the room on your dresser or something farther away than your nightstand. Everything we know about EMFs says that the further away you are from it, the less impact it will have on you. Even a couple of extra inches makes a difference. Bonus! You might start noticing that you are sleeping better night. Whether it's because of the reduced EMF, less blue light at night, or even not hearing a random text from a friend in a different time zone, sleeping better is always nice.

If you are thinking "wait, this isn't going to work, I need my phone for the alarm," try leaving it on the other side of the room. And hey, when the alarm does go off, you'll actually have to get up, so that feels like killing two birds with one stone! If you're a big alarm clock snoozer, there's tons of really awesome alarm clocks in basically any style. Wait... remember actual alarm clocks? Getting an alarm clock will allow you to keep your phone across the room overnight and will instantly upgrade your nightstand into Instagram worthy territory.

References

  1. https://factor.niehs.nih.gov/2018/11/feature/1-feature-radiation/index.htm?WT.mc_id=efactoremail_redesign
  2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563213003993
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