Updated May 27, 2022
How do you like to unwind before bed? Are you the kind of person who relaxes by playing a game on your phone? Do you typically check social media and email at the end of the night? If you do, you're one of the millions of Americans who like to enjoy modern technology in the evening. However, it turns out that nighttime overuse of mobile phones has a direct negative effect on poor sleep quality and daytime sleepiness.
It may be common for some people to lay in bed at night with their phones or other electronic devices; however, scientists warn that this is dangerous. It was recently discovered that phones emit a blue light which can be harmful to your eyes and will worsen your vision over time. This can be worsened by using your phone in the dark. To help your eyes use your phone only when the lights are on or simply turn on the blue light filter found on most devices. Excessive smartphone use can have a negative impact on your brain's production of melatonin which is essential for proper rapid eye movement or REM sleep and will cause interruptions to your circadian rhythm. For more about REM sleep, check out our page on sleep science.
Reading on your phone will keep your mind active, this will make it more difficult to relax your mind when you try to fall asleep. This may be someone reading or answering emails for work or a high school or college student texting someone or emailing a professor.
This is a major problem with teenagers according to The Guardian. Late-night phone usage can lead to mental health problems and a decline in self-esteem. Teenagers need 8 to 10 hours of sleep and the questionnaire reported some teens staying up until 3 am texting on their phones.
One tip to control your adolescent's phone usage and screen time is to take away the phone at night until you can be sure that they will not use it at night. There is also an app available that can shut down their phones at bedtime to help with their smartphone addiction and improve their quality of sleep.
According to a recent Google Survey posed by US-Mattress, Americans who responded positively to the question "Do you often find yourself using your cell phone in bed at night?" generally answered negatively to the question "How well do you usually sleep?" This was especially apparent in young adults aged 18 to 24-years-old, an age group where nearly 80% reported regularly spending time on their cell phones in bed before going to sleep. Of all respondents, they were the least likely to report getting "good" or "great" sleep.
Many Americans leave their cell phones on all night, for a variety of reasons. Besides the connection between active cell phone use and sleep deprivation, the survey results also showed that of all respondents:
64% never turn off their cell phones at night
58% use their cell phones as alarm clocks
18% will always check notifications or answer messages at night
30% sometimes do
The survey also showed that those who do not check notifications or answer messages at night have a considerably higher chance of experiencing a "good" or "great" night of sleep. Commenting on the results, US-Mattress Chief Researcher Donna Wang says, "As we live in a fast-paced world that seems to never unplug, it's important for people to understand how essential a good night's sleep is for their overall health and performance, and how cell phones are playing a major role in sleep deprivation."