Smartphones are one of the greatest technological advancements of our time, and they make our lives much easier and more organized. Getting used to having cell phones in our lives is a major adjustment, with humanity continuing to learn about the potential harm of smartphones. One of the biggest concerns is how smartphones affect your sleep.


5 ways your cellphone may impact sleep quality

Modern smartphones and tablets emit something called blue light. This blue light has several effects on the human body, including telling your brain that it's time to wake up when you should be going to bed instead. In contrast, if your phone had a red light instead of a blue one, your brain would believe it was time to go to sleep whenever you looked at your phone or tablet.

But blue light is just one part of how smartphones affect your sleep.


1. Keep you up later

If browsing through social media or the news is part of your bedtime routine, you may be sabotaging your own attempts to go to sleep. Browsing on a smartphone or tablet before bed stimulates the brain, keeping it alert when it should be winding down. While the blue light plays a role in this, a lot of it also has to do with your own reactions to what you read.

Reading something upsetting or exciting before bed gets your energized when your body should be relaxing, and using electronics to browse social media has shown to result in sleep disturbances.


2. Disturb your circadian rhythm

Everyone has an internal circadian rhythm, which shifts throughout the day from moments of alertness and sleepiness. On average, adults should feel sleepiest between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. and then again between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. If our bodies are getting an adequate amount of sleep every night, any dip in the circadian rhythm periods of feeling sleepy will be less intense. So, it's important to maintain a regular sleep schedule at night to avoid excessive drowsiness during the day.

Staying up too late forces the body to readjust from a normal sleep pattern to accommodate the disturbance. Similarly, not sleeping well, waking up multiple times throughout the night and other factors that prevent you from getting a proper night's sleep are all disturbances that can disrupt your circadian rhythm.

That blue light we mentioned earlier is one of the main culprits of disrupting our circadian rhythm since our brains interpret blue light as a sign of morning and assume we should be waking up.

3. suppress your melatonin secretion

Blue light is also guilty of suppressing how much melatonin our bodies create. Melatonin is a necessary hormone our brains naturally create to control when we wake up and when we sleep. Melatonin levels naturally increase in the evening and continue to rise, which helps us fall asleep. When the sun rises, the melatonin levels decrease, encouraging us to wake up.

More melatonin is needed at night time, but the amount of melatonin the body creates is dependent on the circadian rhythm and the amount of light we're exposed to each day. While we can easily turn off lamps and overhead lights, it's harder to avoid the blue light from electronics. That light ends up disrupting the circadian rhythm, which then reduces the amount of melatonin the body creates leading to more difficultly falling asleep and staying asleep.

4. reduce the quality of sleep

Lack of melatonin also means you could find yourself constantly waking up throughout the night or finding it difficult to go back to sleep once you wake.

Even if you don't read on your phone before bed, just having it in the same room can help disrupt your sleep. The dings, beeps and buzzes from various notification alerts can pull you out of sleep. If you're woken up by a phone notification and decide to check it, the blue light from the phone will make it even harder for you to fall back asleep even if the contents of the notification aren't stimulating.

And if you're the lucky sort who can manage to sleep through noise, the quality of your sleep still won't be as good as it would be if your bedroom was free of electronic interference altogether.

5. Decrease the amount of rem sleep

Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is one of the stages we experience in a normal night's rest. REM sleep is when most of our dreams occur and it's also the period of sleep in which our bodies become paralyzed except our eyeballs and our mind has an activity level similar to when we're awake. This period of sleep is crucial for solidifying memories and sharpening our creative and problem-solving skills.

Naturally, the body will require less REM sleep as it ages, but reducing the amount of REM sleep unnaturally such as by using cell phones and similar electronics before going to sleep can end up negatively affecting your day-to-day life. A lack of proper REM sleep also adds to a reduced quality of sleep and makes it much harder for you to wake up when you need to. When you do finally wake, without enough completed REM cycles, you'll feel groggy and sluggish, taking far longer than usual to feel fully woken up.

why does sleep matter?

Maybe you've found that you've been doing all right without the recommended amount of sleep, or you don't think that a little grogginess in the morning is anything to be concerned about. However, there are other side effects of improper sleep that may have you rethinking your nightly ritual of browsing social media.

1. delayed sleep affects productivity

Getting too little sleep will inevitably make you feel groggy and tired when you do wake up, especially if you have to wake at a specific time. You'll find it harder to get out of bed and get your day started, but even when you leave the house, that lack of sleep will affect how your brain functions.

Studies have shown that a lack of proper sleep is the cause of many serious errors made by medical professionals. Inability to fall asleep at a decent hour and then suffering a night of disruptive sleep can be attributed to electronics use and leads to a decline in cognitive function.


2. bad sleep leads to bad diet

Whether an improper night's rest results in laziness or fatigue, it definitely results in bad diet choices. Studies show that a bad night's sleep is related to weight gain and inactivity, which isn't too surprising. After all, who wants to go for a run or have a workout when they feel tired and have reduced cognitive function? It's likely for a similar reason that people's eating habits suffer when they don't get enough sleep lack of motivation to cook means eating processed food or getting takeout too often.


3. sleep improves immune system

Believe it or not, by getting a proper night's sleep, you could be preventing the common cold. Proper sleep is known to help our immune system fight off viruses, but not getting enough proper sleep can end up weakening the immune system.

Partially related is the fact that people who don't get enough sleep or don't get enough undisrupted sleep are more likely to be at risk of heart diseases and stroke.


4. proper sleep impacts mental health

Depression is one of the most common symptoms of mental illness, and sleep deprivation can actually make it worse. Studies show that changes in sleep patterns have a direct relation to depression, with 90% of people with depression reporting trouble with sleep. Poor sleep is also known to increase the likelihood of death by suicide.

Similarly, a good night's sleep can prevent accidents in your daily life. Falling asleep at the wheel while driving, dozing off during important meetings or oversleeping at inappropriate or inconvenient times can result in preventable accidents or mishaps, which can range from simple to colossal. If your job consists of operating heavy machinery, and you don't get a proper night's sleep, you could be putting yourself as well as your colleagues at risk.

5. sleep repairs the body

While you sleep, your body can replenish itself and heal some wounds and trauma you may not have known even existed, such as stress. Physical ailments, like a pulled muscle, start the process of healing while you're asleep and need for you to get enough undisturbed sleep. Repairing the body of things like the effects of UV rays or everyday stress becomes impossible if you're staying up too late at night or are constantly waking up throughout the night.

How to sleep better

In this day and age, it's almost impossible to go without any electronics at all, but there are ways to reduce the amount of potential harm. One of the best things to do is to invest in something to block blue light from your phone or tablet. Certain smartphones have the option to turn off the blue light, such as dark mode on an iPhone. If you're a fan of reading on your tablet before bed, you can now get eyeglasses with lenses that filter blue light, which is also great if you spend a lot of time in front of screens.

Here are some other ways to sleep better without sacrificing your electronics:

1. set a curfew

Smartphone sleep problems can easily be solved by simply limiting how late you can use an electronic device. Set a timer or alarm on your phone for approximately an hour before you usually go to sleep. When the timer goes off, don't use any electronics — including TVs and computers, along with smartphones and tablets — until the morning.

This will allow your body to produce more melatonin and guide you to sleep quicker. Plus, it removes the temptation of browsing social media for hours before bed.

2. turn off your phone

Even if you set a curfew for your electronics, there's still a chance your sleep will be disturbed by notifications or late night calls. Cell phones and sleep deprivation don't have to go hand in hand so long as you turn off your phone or set it on Do Not Disturb. The latter is an excellent option if you're someone's emergency contact since you can set the phone to notify you if specific people call.

Reduced quality of sleep is one of the more common smartphone sleep problems but simply turning off electronics before bed can greatly improve the quality of your sleep.

3. keep a book or magazine on hand

If you're not the sort of person who falls asleep right as your head hits the pillow, you may be more tempted to reach for your smartphone or tablet. A good way to resist that temptation is to keep a book or magazine on your bedside table so you have something to help relax your mind.

Reading an actual book instead of an electronic one will help your mind resist falling into anxious thought patterns, and you'll find yourself getting drowsy in only a few pages. However, make sure it's not a thrilling book that will stimulate your mind and end up energizing your body.

4. prohibit electronics in the bedroom

The myth that cell phone radiation disrupts sleep may not be true, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea to keep electronics in your bedroom. Your bedroom should be a place of calm and relaxation so it can encourage your body and mind to slow down and go to sleep — and remain comfortably asleep.

Avoid using your bedroom or at least your bed as a workspace or lounge area if possible. Instead, try to restrict its use to rest and relaxation only. A good way to do this is to avoid setting up a computer or a TV in your bedroom and avoid streaming shows or movies while in bed. Associating your bedroom with things others than a good night's rest can make achieving that rest harder.

5. consider calming activities

If you've been meaning to start meditating but never feel you have the time, swap out your electronics in favor of meditating in your room. Calming activities that will help your mind and body relax and unwind help you to fall asleep faster as well as stay asleep. If meditation isn't an option, try listening to calm music or take some time to write about your day in a journal.

upgrade to a sleep-friendly cell phone with gazelle

Safely and securely sell your old phone and buy a more recent generation with sleep-friendly capabilities. With honest pricing and a 30-day return policy, Gazelle provides value and convenience without sacrificing quality.

Whether you're looking to buy or to sell, you can trust Gazelle.

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