We are a nation (and largely, a world) that is completely addicted to our smartphones. It used to be when you walked into a restaurant or a bar, you saw people holding conversations. Nowadays, a significant percentage of those people are staring at their screens. It’s bad enough that states have had to pass new laws (here’s one example) to keep people’s hands off of their phones while driving.
It’s also so bad that smartphones are keeping us from sleeping.
According to a study from a few years ago, 70% of us sleep with our phones right next to us. Another study from this year said 35% of us check our phones within five minutes of waking up — that’s before brushing teeth, having coffee, or in some cases even saying good morning to our significant others!
But, why is this a bad thing? Here are a few reasons:
Blue light: Using your phone right before bed and having notifications light your phone in the middle of the night exposes your eyes to blue light emitted by the screen. This type of light tells your brain that it’s time to wake up, and isn’t conducive to sleep.
Notifications: Some people don’t bother to use the nighttime features most smartphones have now. They keep the phone from lighting up every time there’s an email, text, or social media notification. This is very distracting when we’re trying to sleep, and tempts us to take a look to see what’s going on. Even if you put your phone on vibrate, the buzzing can easily be enough to wake some people in the middle of the night.
Temptation: This piggybacks on the item above, that for many people it’s just too much temptation to not check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or texts in the middle of the night. There’s even a new type of sleep disorder — sleep texting.
Ideally, at bedtime our phones should be outside the bedroom entirely. Obviously we understand that many people use their phones as alarm clocks, and that’s a perfectly legitimate use. We do recommend, however, that the phone be on the other side of the room at night. Besides, if you have to get out of bed to turn off your alarm, you’re less likely to fall back asleep afterwards!