Smartphones and Sleep – Your Enemy and Your Friend?

Have you thought about your smartphone and sleep? Americans don’t sleep very well. The Centers for Disease Control says a full third don’t get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Seven hours is the goal. The obsessive relationship we have with smartphones may hurt us most when it comes to getting enough shut-eye, according to Mattress Advisor research. So let’s talk about smartphones and sleep.

Smartphones and sleep

The light from TVs, tablets, computers, and smartphones actually halt the release of melatonin, a hormone that lulls us to sleep. Without sleep, the stress hormone cortisol increases. Basically, we’re losing sleep by metaphorically keeping the lights on (too much stimuli) and punching ourselves in the face (stress).

Apps accessible by smartphone, tablet or computer keep us hooked all day long. Seventy-seven percent of Americans check apps and social media platforms—like Facebook and YouTube—all day and before bed.

According to the Mattress Advisor survey, 76.5% of the apps people use before bed are related to social media and Facebook makes up 55.8% of those apps:

smartphones and sleep

Less Sleep = Danger at Work

The American Safety Council says it is dangerous to work with less than a full night’s sleep, citing that 17 to 19 hours without sleep can drop performance levels to the equivalent of a 0.05% blood alcohol level and cut response speeds in half. When you’re not fully rested, your motor skills become compromised, which puts you and co-workers more likely to be injured on the job.

Your mind isn’t at peak ability to solve problems. You may fall asleep in the middle of a task. You get less done. You can’t deal with stress. It adds up. You get behind on tasks. You take risks to play catch-up. You are less and less careful.

And accidents are not the only physical danger you face when you don’t get enough sleep. Others include:

  • Obesity
  • Worsening of diabetes and other disorders (e.g. epilepsy)
  • Heart disease
  • Digestion and stomach problems
  • Depression

Smartphone for Better Rest

smartphones and sleep

Wait, didn’t we just tell you “Smartphone bad!” when it comes to getting sleep? Yes, we did. And, yes, they do. But smartphones don’t have to lead to your physical downfall. Used wisely, well before you jump in bed for the night, they also have useful resources to help you sleep better. So following read about the good side of smartphones and sleep.

For example, iOS 9.3 and higher have a function called Night Shift. It’ll turn the bad blue and white lights on the iPhone into warmer tones starting at sunset. Your phone won’t be in a constant state of jacking you up before bedtime.

The Bedtime feature housed in your Clock app will record how much sleep you get. (This article also includes the sleep recommendations by age group from the National Sleep Foundation.) The app will recommend a specific bedtime for you. So use your smartphone and sleep.

Another app called Beddit analyzes the quality of your sleep—when you fall asleep and wake up; how much you’re tossing and turning plus your heart rate, snoring, etc. If you know the problems, there may be a practical solution, like a better mattress, or seeing a doctor for possible asthma or sleep apnea.

Smartphone use, specifically with addictive apps, hinders sleep but cutting down on and being smarter with them can make your phone work for you in your quest for rest.

So, now that you know about your smartphones and sleep, perhaps you can put them down during the evening and even use an app that lets you enjoy more ZZZZZs.

About the Author

Lauren Hailey is a writer and copy editor from Durham, NC. When she’s not typing away at her computer, Lauren enjoys walking her golden retriever, doing yoga, and gardening.


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