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The Perils of Sleeping with Your Mobile Phone

By Edited Jul 13, 2016 0 0

Are there perils associated with sleeping with your mobile phone or other Internet-enabled device? Some say keeping yourself "connected" day and night can cause substantial interruption to your life. Seems plausible, as most anywhere you turn around these days there are numerous people looking at various types of gadgets.

Domestic cat sleeping beside landline phone
Credit: Hindustanilanguage/Found on Wikimedia Commons-Creative Commons w/Attribution-Share Alike

Many people today aren't getting a restful sleep like they may have had in days of pre-mobile.

Is Mobile Connectivity Coming at a High Cost?

Makes you wonder how often are people reaching for their phone during a full 24-day cycle? Seems to be pretty frequent. For instance, according to a 2012 survey, 54 percent of participants said they check their phones from the bedroom.Jump forward just one year and a different survey showed 79 percent of people have their phones with them 22 hours a day. To break it down a bit further, 64 percent of those surveyed said they check their mobile the minute they wake up.2 Chances are many of these people are sleeping with their phones too.

With over 75 percent of people checking their phone (almost) 24 hours a day, this can lead to problematic situations, which can surface in many forms, including getting a good night's rest.

Here are a few ways sleeping with (and constantly carrying) your cellphone can create problems:

Erodes Work-Life balance

In a 2012 CNN piece, author Maggie Jackson compared days of yesteryear when families lived in the same building as their places of business, and how it would interrupt family life3. She tells the story of a couple who moved to the suburbs "to put some distance between family and work". Fast-forward to today, and their son ended up divorced due to what he described as "portability of work", thanks to his mobile phone.

Personal Health Apps for Smartphones

This man is not alone. Many people are increasingly finding themselves connected to their jobs due to the ability to remain "on call" all the time, thanks to cellular and other Internet-ready devices. According to a survey by Right Management in 2011 (via Chicago Tribune), two out of three employees said they receive emails from bosses on weekends and one in three are expected to reply to these messages.4

The culture cellphones (which have now expanded to other types of mobile gadgets) have created over the past few years could potentially be damaging on many levels.

Compulsion to Look at Devices

While employment-related communication that arrives in the middle of the night can cause problems with work-life balance, the incoming messages arriving are often not even work-related.

People nowadays often stay linked to their favorite social media networks 24/7 or keep their phones on hand in case any text messages come in. Many people even constantly look at their phones even if no buzzing or ringing has occurred indicating any new information. This ability to remain connected, and the compulsion that can come with this habit, can be a risky venture, as this could not only lead to sleep issues, but also relationship and other lifestyle problems.

Additionally, the phenomenon of sleep-texting has emerged as a real issue in society. When people have reached the point they are texting in their sleep and do not recall doing it, this can lead to all sorts of troubles.

Relationships Troubles

Sleeping with a cellphone can cause problems in relationships. A person may find his or her partner's need to stay connected annoying, hurtful or find it disrupts their own sleep. Over time, the continued "connectivity" of one partner can lead to significant trouble in a relationship. For example, resentment, anger or apathy can emerge.

Sleep Deprivation

Studies that have connected sleep deprivation to mobile phones date back years. Logically, it makes sense. If someone rings a landline or knocks on the door in the middle of the night, it's going to wake you up, and perhaps make you unable to doze back off.

Exhausted smartphone user
Credit: Per Palmkvist Knudsen/Creative Commons License - Attribution/Share Alike

Compare this to consistent notifications going off throughout the night. Even if not answered, these buzzes and beeps will still be disruptive, eventually leading to sleep deprivation; the latter of which could lead to health problems, inability to focus at work or manage home responsibilities.

Health Problems?

Additionally, back in 2008, there were studies conducted that suggest the levels of radiation emitted by cellphones can also interrupt sleep patterns or cause cancer. This issue is currently inconclusive and any suggestion is usually controversial, however, it is a topic of debate that emerges again and again. Perhaps it's best to err on the side of caution since there are so many other negatives associated with sleeping alongside of mobile devices anyway.

Keeping a mobile phone on hand 24-hours a day can severely cause issues and eliminate the lines that define a healthy work-life balance. Whenever possible, it is likely better to simply shut it off, or at the very least, put it in another room away sleeping quarters, out of reach. Everyone needs a break sometimes, work or otherwise, as too much information overload can lead to other lifestyle disruptions. 



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  1. "Mobile Mindset Study." Lookout. 14/10/2014 <Web >
  2. "79% Of People 18-44 Have Their Smartphones With Them 22 Hours A Day [STUDY]." Media Bistro. 14/10/2014 <Web >
  3. "Smartphones let work win out." CNN. 14/09/2012. 14/10/2014 <Web >
  4. Cindy Krischer Goodman "When your calling keeps calling -The ultraconnected office requires that boundaries are set for after-hours work." Chicago Tribune. 10/14/2011. 14/10/2014 <Web >
  5. "Cell Phones and Cancer Risk." National Cancer Institute. 14/10/2014 <Web >

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