Cell Phones and Catching Quality Z’s

We’ve all been there. We say goodnight to anyone we might 141222131348_1_900x600have been talking to, get under the covers, check “one thing” on our phones, and then have every intention of going to sleep. However, all too often that “one thing” turns into “multiple things,” and then it’s 3A.M. and our smartphones are still in hand, screens glaring. The other night, as I found myself in this position, I started to think “is this something I should really be doing?”

The simple answer: probably not

According to Harvard Health, smartphones and other electronics give off what’s called blue light/wavelengths that actually make the brain believe it is daytime. This stream of photons (the wavelengths) from our smartphones prevent the production of melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone) which: causes people to stay awake longer, makes it more difficult for people to fall asleep, disrupts circadian rhythms, and disturbs the sleep cycle. All things that contribute to poor sleep quality and incomplete repair of damages to the mind and body. However, if that isn’t enough to convince you to put down your phone at night, let’s put some things in perspective through a few studies.

1. Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Scientists had participants look at a screen for 60 minutes and then for 2+ hours while they measured the amount of light reaching the back of the eye. After 60 minutes, melatonin levels didn’t change enough to affect the human circadian system and disrupt sleep. But after 2 hours, there was a significant increase in melatonin suppression.

2. Karolinska Institute and Uppsala University in Sweden and Wayne State University in Michigan, USA: Exposed one group of participants to radiation which mimicked that of a smartphone and another was placed in the same environment but with fake exposure and no radiation. Scientists found that “people who had received the radiation took longer to enter the first of the deeper stages of sleep, and spent less time in the deepest one.”

3. BMC Public Health and Sleep Medicine: Tested different groups of people as well as took multiple variables into consideration. Since these two groups did this, they found that overall people who used smartphones before bed had disrupted/poor quality sleep, but in some cases, there was no affect (at least, not one that was really significant). This shows that sometimes it just depends on a variety of factors such as culture, age, duration, frequency, etc.

Now, I know what you may be thinking, if there was at least the slightest bit of inconsistency between studies, should we turn off our phones before bed or not? Well, if you use your phone at night and find yourself waking up tired, maybe it’s something you should try. But if you are one of those people where looking at your phone before bed is habitual, try and be conscious about how long and how often you’re using it. Instead of three hours, cut it down to twenty minutes. After all, sleeping is extremely important, and depending on how well you rest can determine how you feel, think, and act throughout the day.

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5 thoughts on “Cell Phones and Catching Quality Z’s

  1. Shayla Ahamed

    I am definitely one to check my phone multiple times before I go to bed even though I know its bad for me to do so. I read somewhere before that it disrupted my sleep but I never really thought too much into it. I like that your post talked about many different studies and how these studies showed the different effects of cell phone use before bed. I agree that cell phone use before bed (including my own) should be cut down. Maybe I’ll try putting my phone away before bed the next few nights and see how this effects my sleeping patterns!

  2. Meghan Kelly Shiels

    I agree with this post completely. I think smartphones might be even more disruptive to sleep patterns than we think. Think of the example we had in class the other day. If light from a T.V. is enough to cause changes in the hippocampus of hamsters, wouldn’t light from a cell phone do something similar?

  3. Morgan Alexandria Parker

    I think this post is interesting, because I have always known that being on your phone before bed was bad, but it’s something we all do anyways. It’s so hard to just put your phone down sometimes and go to sleep. I thought the study comparing light on the eyes was very interesting. It’s crazy how just looking into light can effect melatonin levels.

  4. Dominica A Killeen

    I’m one of those people that always uses my phone before bed and I never really a noticed a problem with my sleeping habits. I would just check various social media sites for about an hour or so, most of the time I usually fall asleep while checking them. I wonder if different factors have an effect on peoples’ sleep because using my phone or watching TV never messed up my sleeping cycle. Anyway, it is interesting to think about and I really enjoyed reading your post!

  5. Sarah Elizabeth Pettoruto

    This was such an awesome post because I can totally relate to it! I tell my friends I am going to bed at 11 then am still up on my phone until 2 am. I do not even notice it at the time, but then I wake up feeling exhausted and sometimes my eyes even hurt. The studies you included were very interesting too, and in the third one I guess I would have fallen into the “poor sleep quality” category. Like I said great post!

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