Seven reasons you should never sleep with your phone. For real.
by Amanda Tegtmeyer
2 months ago
You might be playing radiation roulette
So this is what we do know: mobile phones work by emitting radio frequency (RF) energy that goes out from the phone’s antenna in all directions - including into your head and body. It’s fine... supposedly. Because RF is a good type of radiation, known as ‘non-ionizing’, that cannot produce enough energy to break chemical bonds. ‘Ionising’ radiation is the bad one associated with X-rays, CT scans and Chernobyl (also, you have to watch that HBO series right now). Despite this scientific fact, stories abound about cancer and phones certainly exist along with numerous conflicting studies usually concerning rats and tumours. Also, there's a lot of noise about the new 5G networks that were launched this year will increase both the number of antennas sending signals to mobile devices and potentially our exposure to radiation.
Cancer risk aside, the biggest question marks linger over children and sperm counts. Studies have definitely shown that cellphone radiation leads to decreased sperm motility (their ability to swim). As the testicles sit outside of the abdomen, usually very near a trouser pocket with a phone inside, this is really too close for comfort. Not great.
And children? Common smartphone use has only been around a decade or so and kids have a lifetime of using these things ahead of them, and no one knows the long term effects yet.
What everyone recommends is this: do not go to sleep cuddled up with your phone. Ideally, charge it out of your bedroom at night away from your head. If it’s your alarm, there’s a simple solution: buy yourself a decent alarm clock. You can be 100% certain an alarm clock will never increase your cancer risk or decrease your sperm’s motility.
High levels of RF radiation can heat tissue and theoretically cause tissue damage.
The sage advice is to avoid pressing a phone to your body, especially your delicate little ear. Even Apple warns us that in order to “reduce exposure to RF energy, use a hands-free option, such as the built-in speakerphone, the supplied headphones, or other similar accessories.”
This means when you go to bed at night, do not cuddle up with a smart phone that emits RF right next to your skin, the biggest organ in your body. It will get hot and so will you. Speaking of hot, see below.
Charging your phone under a pillow is a fire hazard
Phones have been known to leave scorch marks on bedding when charging there overnight. Not so long ago, a local fire department in Newton, New Hampshire, USA, posted that the “heat generated cannot dissipate[,] and the charger will become hotter and hotter. The likely result is that the pillow/bed will catch fire.” Yeah, that’s not ideal. Previous studies have reported that up to 38% of children keep their phones under their pillows overnight. Parents, you really owe it to yourselves to stop that one.
They ruin your sleep
Screens on smartphones emit a lot of blue light, which can affect the part of your brain related to circadian rhythms - the body’s sleep cycle - and can turn off the production of the sleep-making hormone melatonin.
Sleep guru Matthew Walker, whose book Why We Sleep is a must-read, is unequivocal about sleeping with screens. He states that your “TV, cell phone or computer in the bedroom can be a distraction and deprive you of needed sleep”. Out they must go, because sleep is indeed needed.
They are filthy
Teeming with pathogens. A study back in 2011 by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine found faecal matter on one in every six smartphones. Maybe people wash their hands more these days. Or maybe not - every year biology students from the University of Surrey in the UK imprint their phones onto petri dishes. Among other juicy morsels, traces of staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium that commonly inhabits your nose and that can cause a range of infections from minor boils or skin abscesses to blood poisoning, have been found. Another study, this one from The Wall Street Journal, found up to 4,200 units of the bacteria on each phone. Blech.
Get it off your clean pillow and your face, pronto!
They could contribute to the growing bone spurs on your skull
Lying in bed with your neck reaching down to your phone can help contribute to the growth of horn-like structures at the back of your skull. Seriously. This past June, researchers from the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia said these bone spurs are a result of repeatedly tipping your head forward when you’re on a small screened device. The Washington Post reported that this forward tilt shifts weight from the spine to the muscles at the back of the head “causing unusual bone formations in the ligaments and tendons.” The study’s co-author, Mark Sayers, an associate professor of biomechanics, said they are a “portent of something nasty going on elsewhere”. Best to just lie that neck down and go to sleep without your phone.
They are ruinous for your sex life
Remember when your sex life actually had a life? Before you fell in love with that slim computer that’s permanently in your hand? You know what we’re talking about: sleeping with it, reaching for it first thing in the morning, finding yourself obsessed with Netflix, social media and your email 24/7 while the book pile on your bedside table gets bigger and your love life shrinks.
Famous US sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer, now 90, said recently that everyone “is lonely, watching a screen and getting addicted to it, because they think, 'Who knows what's going to happen on that screen that I'm missing? They don't have a free thought to get sexually aroused, to make time for sex”. Listen to Dr. Ruth - put it away and make time for a riské or steamy thought. Studies have shown that sex improves the immune system, lowers the heart rate and blood pressure, and reduces stress. The same cannot be said for that computer wedded to your palm. Sleep with someone, not with your phone.
In 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that phone devices are a “Class 2B carcinogen,” which means they possibly can cause cancer in humans. They share that little tidbit with pickles, aloe vera and being a carpenter.