Is Your Phone Affecting Your Sleep?

By Rachel Eberle, senior writer

According to Business Insider, 95% of people are on their cell phones before bed. A survey taken by 18 – 29 year olds shows that 90% of that age group sleeps with their cell phones nearby. However, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that proves people should not sleep by their cell phone, or use these electronic devices before bed.

The blue light given off by phone screens suppresses the amount of melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland that controls a person’s sleep and wake cycle.  Any light exposure suppresses the production of melatonin; however, blue light is more powerful and thus more damaging. With the suppression of this hormone, the quality of sleep is sure to be hurt. Considering long term effects, exposure to harsh light at nighttime and suppression of melatonin may increase a person’s risk to certain cancers.

Cell phones also make it harder to fall asleep.  Using a phone stimulates the brain, which makes winding down and falling asleep a longer, harder process. Similarly, radiation emitted by the devices makes it more difficult to go to sleep as well as decreases the amount of time a person can sleep. Cell phone radiation may also cause confusion, loss of concentration, and headaches during the next day.  Because of this, it is best to place your cell phone at least six feet away from you before bed.

        Not only is the cell phone dangerous before bed, but it can even have negative effects on someone while they’re asleep.  The sound of alerts or incoming texts, emails, or calls can easily wake you during the night.  Again, melatonin levels can be suppressed if a phone lights up during the night. A nearby phone can even cause an unconscious tenseness that makes achieving a deep sleep harder.

        Although rare, temporary blindness has been caused by using a cell phone in bed. In one case, temporary blindness was caused in one woman’s eye as she layed on her side with one eye watching the phone, and the other covered by a pillow. In this case, the temporary blinding was due to the retina of one eye adjusting to the light while the retina of the other eye adjusted to dark.

It is tempting to browse Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube, or other social media before bed, but despite what you may think, checking your phone before bed will not actually help you fall asleep.  Even though using cell phones before bed has been proven to hurt the length and quality of sleep, damage eyesight, and cause fatigue during the next day, there is only one way to prevent these effects.  Stay off your phone for thirty minutes to an hour before bed, and place your phone six feet away from yourself during the night.

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