Cell phones can seriously affect sleep, whether it’s content on your smartphone causing the disruption or the device itself.
For many people, social media and other related content consumption from smartphones have become a regular part of our day. However, given its habitual nature, many may be unaware of how it can negatively affect sleep. For example, a report from the Sleep Foundation found that 21% of surveyed adults wake up and check their phones during the night.1 Another study on teenagers found that those who spent more time on social media also tended to record poorer sleep quality.2
Understandably, waking up in the middle of the night due to a fear of missing out on the latest news or just overloading and overstimulating your mind before falling asleep are not the best ingredients for a restful night.
Even if you are not on your phone to check social media, phone use can still impact your sleep, thanks to the blue light they emit. These blue light waves affect our circadian rhythms — the body’s sleep schedule — and make it harder to fall asleep and stay that way for the entire night.3 So, as you might imagine, waking in the middle of the night to check your phone is also not great for your sleep health.
Do Not Disturb
One practice to help reduce your phone’s impact is to avoid using it before bed and replace it with a relaxing hobby to help you unwind, like reading a book or listening to music. Putting down the phone can be challenging if you receive constant notifications, so a handy tool available on most smartphones is the “Do Not Disturb” setting. This setting will ensure your phone won’t ping, vibrate or light up with any notifications, tempting you to re-engage. If you must remain reachable by certain people, you can change the settings to approve incoming calls from specific contacts. Other helpful alternatives include leaving your phone in a different room or muting only certain notifications.
While silencing notifications can help reduce sleep disruption, it’s also essential to remind yourself that you don’t need to constantly check in with the world. Taking a break from social media or your phone entirely outside of sleep hours can be a much-needed refresh for your mental health, even if it’s only a short period of time.
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- Sleep Foundation. Sleep and Social Media. Accessed May 10, 2023.
- Iranian Journal of Psychiatry. Social Media Use and Sleep Disturbance among Adolescents: A Cross-Sectional Study. Accessed May 10, 2023.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Color of the Light Affects the Circadian Rhythms. Accessed May 10, 2023.