Lots of people use their phone until it’s time to fall asleep, then they’re literally in bed with them, or charging nearby, all night. Using your phone before bed isn’t good, but is proximity bad too?
Researchers agree that using a phone before bed can cause poor quality sleep. However, what happens when we are finally asleep? Does having the phone nearby affect us subliminally? And are there any health risks associated with sleeping near a mini computer every night?
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How your phone makes your sleep worse
First, let’s talk about the effects of having a phone nearby in the dream. As mentioned, it is generally accepted that using a telephone before the bed is not good. The bright screen and endless stimulation disrupt our sleep cycles and prevent our brain from “shutting down.”
These are the same concerns of having a phone nearby while you’re sleeping. Most people wake up several times during the night. It can be tempting to grab your phone in those moments when you’re struggling to get back to sleep.
A burst of bright light in your eyes and a “quick” scroll through Instagram won’t help you fall back asleep. It’s signaling to your brain and body that bedtime is over, and that’s the exact opposite of what you want. Putting your phone out of arms reach can help curb this temptation.
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Are there other health risks?
What about the health risks of sleeping next to your phone? People have been concerned about radiation-emitting electronic devices for a long time. Is there any truth to those concerns?
Smartphones can communicate by transmitting radio waves through a network of antennas. These radio waves, also called radio frequency waves, are electromagnetic fields. Unlike radiation you are probably familiar with, such as X-rays, electromagnetic fields cannot break chemical bonds or cause ionization in the body.
In 2014, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified electromagnetic fields from smartphones as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” However, the organization has not found an increased risk of head or neck cancer with smartphone use for more than 10 years. Other studies have had similar results, although the American Cancer Society notes that it’s somewhat difficult to study.
Results of a more recent study were published in 2018 by the US National Toxicology Program (NTP). They found an increased risk of rare heart tumors in male rats, but not in female rats or in male or female rats. mice. The NTP study also reported a possible increased risk of certain types of tumors in the brain and adrenal glands.
However, a review of this study found that it did not allow conclusions about the ability of radiofrequency energy to cause cancer. The NTP does not include radiofrequency radiation on its list of cancer-causing exposures.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a clear answer to the effects of sleeping next to a smartphone. Plus, most of us aren’t just near our phones in bed. You probably have one in your pocket or on your hands right now. Any health risks that sleeping near your phone would pose would likely apply to your daily life as well.
What we do know is that exposure to electromagnetic fields decreases significantly the further you get from the device. You’re probably near your phone all day, so why not give it some space at night? There’s really no reason to sleep with your phone next to you in bed, and you might be messing around with sleep trackers, too.
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