Do you take your phone to bed with you? If so you need to be aware of the various health risks and why it’s beneficial to ban smartphones from the bedroom.
There have been many studies into smartphone usage in the bedroom and they’ve universally concluded its damaging to health.
This article goes into some of the risks to help better understand why they are damaging and tips to counteract the damage.
If all your personal space is a bedroom take this advice as to why you shouldn’t use a phone in bed.
Takes Longer to Fall Asleep
The blue light from screen devices has shown to suppress the bodies production of melatonin. This hormone is produced by the pea-sized pineal gland near the middle of our brain and helps to regulate sleep. Your body naturally makes more melatonin at night but blue light can affect this.
It’s advisable to use a blue light filter on your devices in the evening to make the screen omit less blue and more yellow light. Try to avoid looking at a screen an hour before going to bed in order to give your body the best chance at falling asleep quickly.
The last thing you want to do when in bed is stimulate your mind and make you more alert and this is exactly what a phone does.
Using your phone or watching TV when you can’t fall asleep is more than likely to exasperate the problem. Try to do anything that relaxes you and doesn’t involve a screen. I find listening to the radio or some yoga poses help me.
Damages Your Eyes
Smartphones and tablets emit high levels of blue light and at night time exposure can damage your retinas. We are exposed to blue light as part of the full light spectrum during the day from natural sunlight but nighttime exposure from high levels of blue light is unnatural.
Long-term exposure at high levels has been linked to macular degeneration and this condition leads to the loss of vision.
Low Quality Sleep
You’re more likely to wake up in the middle of the night if you used a screen shortly before going to bed. If you have a phone next to you in bed its all too easy to check something and the screen will make it even more difficult to get back to sleep.
Smartphone usage in bed has been linked with a reduction in REM sleep. Rapid Eye Movement sleep is important as it’s the restorative part of our sleep that plays a critical role in storing long-term memories and is linked to our creative and problem-solving skills.
Back Pain and RSI
When using a phone most people are forcing their body into a position that affects the necks natural curvature. This problem is compounded when using a phone in bed with extra pressure on your nerves, spine and neck.
If you get pain while using a device, like neck ache or dead hands/fingers, do not ignore it. It may disappear the next day but if you continue doing something that’s causing pain it will take longer to heal each time and could cause permanent damage.
It’s been shown that the body’s respiratory system can decrease in capacity by up to 30% when using a phone in bed. Less oxygen in the body means organs won’t be able to perform at optimum levels.
Groggy and Tired
Using a phone in bed leads to waking up feeling groggy and less alert. Studies have shown that people who use their phone before bed take longer to wake up in the morning and don’t feel like they have had a restful sleep. People who read a book before going to bed often wake up more alert and refreshed
Feeling less alert and tired can take some people a day to get over and the tiredness can enter a vicious repeating cycle.
Obesity, Diabetes, Dementia and Depression
As phones in the bedroom seriously affect sleep it can potentially cause all of these. Without good sleep it seriously affects both physical and mental health.
Sleep deprivation has been linked with metabolic disease and increased appetite leading to weight gain.
The hormone melatonin also acts as an antioxidant that helps your body attack abnormal cell growth. A reduced amount of melatonin does increase your risk for cancer and reduce your immune system.
If you melatonin levels are interrupted for one night it isn’t a risk. However if you habitually use your phone at night there is a significant increase in risk.
Tips to Reduce Damage From Phone Usage
- Always use a blue light filter on devices that kicks in after sunset. This is built into many operating systems now.
- Avoid using anything with a screen an hour before bedtime.
- Keep your phone out of the bedroom and set yourself a ban from ever using in bed unless there’s an emergency.
This article is about phone usage in the bedroom but the same rules apply to tablets and televisions. All devices with a screen in the bedroom can be harmful for sleep. At the end of the day, a bedroom is for sleeping and having sex in and it’s good to have boundaries.
The studies linked here were done exclusively on adults however it’s believed screen time can be just as damaging for children, if not more.
We as a society are addicted to our phones and this is affecting our health. It’s all too easy to carry on using our phone from the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep. Just avoiding using your phone in the bedroom can help your physical and mental health.
It might be difficult to not use a phone in the bedroom if you are used to it, but I urge you to try for at least a week to ban it from your bed or bedroom. Sleep is so vital for overall health.
Have you had any other benefits from avoiding using a phone in the bedroom? Let me know in the comments below.