The Device Might Be Fueling Your Insomnia
“Sleeping has been a struggle ever since I’ve had my smartphone,” laments 21-year-old Bo. He’s owned a smartphone for 5 years now. In the same interview, Bo also admits he feels like he couldn’t live without his handheld device. “I do banking with it. It’s an essential part of my work [he’s in digital marketing for a few months now]. I get to finish a lot of tasks using only my smartphone regardless of the location. Well, as long as there’s Internet connection.”
When asked if he brings his phone to bed, he answers with a laugh like he can’t believe the question. “Of course!” was his ready answer. “Checking emails and browsing through some of my social media accounts are my way of winding down at night.”
Then and there, I saw the problem. Bo’s one of the countless individuals who is losing sleep because of their handheld gadgets.
The Smartphone Is A Slow Killer
The smartphone is perhaps the most useful innovation we’ve had in years.
Unlike the first mobile phones which only allowed us to do the basics like make a call, send a text message or do emails, the smartphone is both business and pleasure rolled into one. Many people conduct their work through their phones and find entertainment – reading, going through social media like Facebook and Instagram – with the very same tool. It’s no wonder 46% of smartphone users say they couldn’t live without it.
But being attached to your smartphone has one dire consequence, an end result that could lead to your early death.
The glow of an energy-efficient light bulb, computer screen, TV, or phone can stimulate the wake center of the brain. — Lauren Woolley, PhD
The use of smartphones has been associated with poorer sleep quality by a recent study done by a University of California research team.
In the said undertaking, the team put into account over 600 individuals from around the world who enrolled in an online app for heart health monitoring. These participants unknowingly took part in the question-form study to avoid bias. From the data they gathered, the researchers discovered that:
- The average hours that all the study participants consumed for their smartphone use throughout a 30-day period were 38.4 hours.
- Approximately 35% of those who spent less than the average smartphone screen time reported having difficulty sleeping.
- 42% of those whose smartphone screen time reached and even exceeded the average hours reported the same.
- Sleep troubles and poor sleep quality were prevalent among those who used their gadgets near or during bedtime.
Furthermore, while researchers found out that smartphone use was dominant during the daytime, there were a significant number of study participants whose phone use was greatest at night.
“We haven’t really ruled out if these people’s inability to sleep was because of another reason and that they only used their smartphones to pass the time,” the team’s lead researcher admits.
Despite this flaw, however, the team’s findings only cement what other previous studies have concluded. For one, an undertaking on the blue light spectrum and its connection to sleep difficulties stated that blue light does disrupt the body’s melatonin production, melatonin being our natural sleep-inducing hormone. Smartphones are fitted with blue lights.
Lack Of Sleep: A Disease Gateway
Medical experts all agree that sleep is a “basic biologic need” of all living things. Being deprived of a good night’s sleep – quantity and quality wise – brings about a myriad of diseases and health risks like:
- Increase in appetite resulting in obesity
- Metabolic diseases
- Heart illnesses
- Mental or emotional health problems like depression
One sleep doctor has this advice for insomniacs and those who generally have trouble sleeping at night.
“Don’t use your smartphones 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime. This simple habit might improve your sleep quality and help you sleep sooner.”
By taking a careful look at what you typically do throughout the day, you might be able to identify small things that are sabotaging your sleep. Making even just one small change might make a meaningful difference. — Marni Amsellem, PhD