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Should You Use Your Smartphone Before Bed?

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smartphone at bedtime

If you are anything like us then your life is full of electronic gadgets. These days it seems like we can hardly do anything that isn’t impacted by electronics. From TVs to computers to smartphones and even kitchen appliances. Electronics and new technology are everywhere.

But have you given any thought to how these things may affect your sleep habits? Electronics and smartphones are such an integral part of everyday life that most of us probably haven’t given any thought to how all of this technology might be impacting our sleeping routines.

Technology is not going away. It is becoming more and more popular and necessary for things like work and entertainment. Our basic need for sleep is not going away either. Humans need a certain amount of good quality sleep each and every night to function properly.

So, can this increased use of technology co-exist with our need for restful sleep each night? Does the use of electronics and smartphones before bed even have any impact on how you sleep or how quickly you can get to sleep? Let’s take a closer look.

How Much Sleep Is Recommended?

To start with it would be helpful for everyone to understand just how much sleep you should actually be getting. This doesn’t mean you should add up a few stretches of sleep to get to these numbers. This is the amount of straight through uninterrupted sleep your body needs each night to promote a healthy you.

  • 0-3 Months (Newborns)

Recommended Sleep Time: 14-17 hours

  • 4-11 Months (Infants)

Recommended Sleep Time: 12-15 hours

  • 1-2 Years (Toddlers)

Recommended Sleep Time: 11-14 hours

  • 3-5 Years (Preschoolers)

Recommended Sleep Time: 10-13 hours

  • 6-13 Years (School-Aged)

Recommended Sleep Time: 9-11 hours

  • 14-17 Years (Teenagers)

Recommended Sleep Time: 8-10 hours

  • 18-25 Years (Young Adults)

Recommended Sleep Time: 7-9 hours

  • 25+ Years (Adults)

Recommended Sleep Time: 7-8 hours

You will often hear about the magic 8 hours of sleep per night. As you can see from the above ranges there is a good deal of truth in that number. For many teenagers through adults 8 hours is a pretty good amount of sleep which is why you hear that number floated around when talking about how much sleep someone should get each night.

We would like to note that there are some people that can function on less than the ideal 8 hours of sleep each night, without negative impacts to their health. These folks can fully function on around 6 hours of sleep each night. It is actually a genetic trait in people that allows them to be able to do this. And it is estimated that only about 3% of the population has the genes that allow them to function on less sleep. So, it is likely that you are not one of those people.

The Science Around How Electronics Impacts Sleep

Maybe you are thinking that you are used to your electronic devices and there is no way that these little things impact your sleep. Or maybe you know they impact your sleep but you are so attached to your smartphone that you don’t feel there is much you can do about it anyway. Many of us do a lot of work through our smartphones these days so it’s important to have it close by.

In case you weren’t sure, technology and smartphones do have an impact on your sleep. Here are some reasons why you should stop using your smartphone well before it’s bedtime. 

Electronics Emit Blue Light

Maybe you already knew this about smartphones but there is a reason that blue light is important when talking about your sleep. The blue light that is emitted by your technological devices inhibits the production of melatonin in your body. 

Melatonin is important when it comes to sleep. You have probably seen supplements that contain melatonin but melatonin is also naturally found in your body. The main function of melatonin is to help regulate sleep cycles. Blue light being emitted by your smartphone inhibits the production of melatonin in your body because darkness naturally causes your body to produce more melatonin to prepare you for sleep.

On top of blue light in your bedroom not allowing your body to produce melatonin to prepare you for sleep, it can also be harmful to your eyes. There are actually studies that show too much blue light can possibly cause damage to your retinas.

Emails and Texts Don’t Normally Help You Sleep

Put the light coming from your smartphone aside for a minute. Even if looking at the light from your smartphone didn’t decrease melatonin production it could still negatively impact your sleep.

You have probably read an email or text message from work that raises your blood pressure and gets you fired up. Try doing that right before it is time for you to go to bed and see how quickly you get to sleep. It just doesn’t work well. You end up stewing about the issue and trying to figure out how to respond or fix the problem instead of calming down and preparing for sleep.

The Sleep Interruption from the Night Before Rolls Over To the Next Day

It’s no secret that after a night when you go to bed too late or you are up tossing and turning that you simply don’t feel as energized the next day. It can quickly turn into a vicious cycle and it never leads to anything good coming from it.

If you don’t feel it the next morning then you can be assured that it will catch up to you in a day or so. And you will usually start feeling the effects just about the time when you can’t afford to. And there is no catching up on missed sleep.

Even If You Are Still Sleeping It May Reduce the Quality of Sleep

Many of us leave our phones on vibrate with it still right next to our beds at night. Maybe you use your phone as your alarm clock as I do. You think you are doing the right thing but you may not even realize that your smartphone may still be affecting your sleep.

If your phone is still making subtle buzzing noises when you receive an email throughout the night then you could subconsciously and unknowingly be interrupting your REM sleep. So you may think you are sleeping soundly but, in reality, you are not getting the quality sleep that your body needs on a regular basis.

What Do We Recommend

It’s not exactly easy, but the best recommendation is to stop using your smartphone and other electronic devices an hour before you are planning to go to sleep. This not only includes your cell phone but for the best results you should even stop watching TV and not be on your computer for an hour before bedtime.

This allows your mind and body the time it needs to decompress to allow your body to prepare for sleep. We understand that this is not always easy to do when we are all so tied to our smartphones and other electronic devices. But we are confident that you will quickly start to notice the difference in how you are sleeping and in how you feel throughout the day. Taking a nice relaxing bath or reading a book can both be good ways to wind down before going to bed.

Final Thoughts from Sleep Reports

The bottom line is that you really need to step back from your smartphone at night. The best thing to do would be to put it in a completely separate room while you are sleeping. And it really is important not to be on it for an hour before going to bed.

If you are worried about an emergency during the night then you can turn the phone upside down and put it into do not disturb mode. This way you won’t see it light up from a text message but if someone is persistent during an emergency they would still be able to get a hold of you in the middle of the night.