No phone in the bedroom

Get better sleep by keeping the cell phone out of the bedroom

Who doesn’t love a long, delicious sleep? What wouldn’t you give to wake up when you want to after all the sleep you need, plus a little extra? Mmmmmmmm… I think I hear my pillowsoft calling me.

As much as we love sleep, Americans don’t get enough of it. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recommends between seven and nine hours of sleep for adults between 18 and 64 years of age. (1) Yet according to the NSF’s own study, 63% of Americans report not getting enough sleep to function, with lack of sleep affecting mood, school, family life and other activities. (2)

Getting inadequate sleep has many causes, but our smartphones can be a part of the problem. Recent research indicates that keeping them out of the bedroom can improve the quality of our sleep.

 

But, Mooooom…

In the oft-repeated words of my own teenagers to my requests that the phones stay in the kitchen at night (insert whining tone here), “Whhhhhyyyyyy?” We all love and depend on our cellphones to stay in touch with the world, so much that it can seem uncomfortable to set them aside at night. So why bother?

 

Stimulation

While nine of ten Americans use some sort of tech device in the hour before sleep, some devices are more disruptive than others. In sleep studies, passive devices like television and MP3 players don’t seem to have a discernible effect on the ease of falling asleep, but subjects that used interactive devices such as cellphones, computers and video game consoles, reported more difficulty in falling asleep as well as feeling less refreshed afterward. (2)

 

Melatonin

Our retinas have light-sensitive cells that help our bodies keep time. When it is dark, our bodies produce that yawn-inducing hormone called melatonin to encourage us to head for our beds. Artificial light can delay the release of melatonin and keep us awake longer. Cell phones and tablets emit blue light, which is even more stimulating than other artificial light. The body clock, carefully set to help you get sufficient sleep, can be thrown off by phone use close to bedtime, with brightness of the light, distance from the eyes, duration of use and time of day all having an effect.(3) Conclusion? Don’t mess with your retina when sleep is on the line!

 

Interruption

Our sleep cycles move us in and out of deep sleep, with brief waking moments that go unnoticed if all is quiet. A phone by the bed can pull us out of sleep completely with an alert or simply the screen lighting up. Four of ten smartphone users will check their phone if disturbed by it at night, stimulating their brains again and making getting back to sleep that much harder. (3) (Not you, of course. You value your sleep too much for a wee-hours message check.)

 

But Mooooom… (reprised)

Maybe you can identify with my kids’ most popular excuse: “My cell phone is my alarm clock!” That is a tricky one…although they do have these new inventions called alarm clocks, available for the economical price of about 1/75th the cost of your smartphone. Give them a try for more delicious sleep!

 

Read here for more info:

“Electronics in the Bedroom: Why it’s Necessary to Turn off Before you Tuck In”
https://sleepfoundation.org/ask-the-expert/electronics-the-bedroom

“7 Reasons to Banish Your Phone from the Bedroom”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/03/no-phone-in-bed_n_6022284.html

“Here’s what happened when I stopped looking at screens at night”
http://www.businessinsider.com/why-its-bad-to-use-your-phone-before-bed-2015-7

 

References

1.National Sleep Foundation website, accessed August 13, 2016. https://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

  1. Gradisar, Michael, et. al. “The Sleep and Technology Use of Americans: Findings from the National Sleep Foundation’s 2011 Sleep in America Poll. published online 15 Dec 2013. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3836340/
  2. Agg, Jennie. “Why you should NEVER keep your mobile in your bedroom,” Daily Mail, 10 Mar 2014. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2577824/Why-NEVER-mobile-bedroom.html
Dana Vaughan

About Dana Vaughan

Dana completed a Master of Public Health (MPH) and a Master of Social Work (MSW) at San Diego State University, and has worked in family planning education, prenatal counseling, and child development. She loves her mountain bike, her husband, her kids, and her faith—although possibly not in that order.

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