Is It Safe To Sleep Next To Your Phone - Yeah, Almost!

In today’s day and age, it’s safe to say our phones have become like another appendage on our bodies. We connect with our friends, family, colleagues, and even strangers by pickup up our phones and interacting through our screens. So it only seems natural to want to stay connected at all times. So it only seems natural that we would want to keep our phones under our pillow as we sleep and maintain a sense of connection to everything. But is it safe?

Well, sleeping next to your phone does not cause cancer or headache – Period! There is enough scientific evidence to prove that cellphone radiation isn’t harmful. 

However, that still does not mean sleeping next to your phone is 100% safe. There are remote chances of cellphone battery explosion but the worst of all is disturbed sleep which can be a lot detrimental in the long term.

 Read on to learn what else we discovered.

sleeping next to your phone

Why do we feel the need to sleep next to our phones?

Typically after a certain age, we stop feeling like we need to sleep snuggled next to our teddy bears or keep our baby blankets nearby. So, why do we feel the need to sleep next to our phones? One primary reason is that our phones and the apps we use give our brains the same chemical reaction that a delicious bite of food or exercise would (source). It sends a chemical to our brain, called dopamine, that causes us to seek these rewards over and over again. 

This may explain why we stay up late into the night, even when we have to wake up early for school or work. The troubles of tomorrow seem less critical than watching another funny cat video or two. Display dependencies have become a real challenge to people trying to sleep. The apps we use are constantly fighting for our attention and our time. 

Blue lights and distractions

We receive notifications, reminders, and other distracting alerts when we sleep with our phones next to us. Our phone’s display frequently turns on and off if these standard features are enabled. The blue lights that our displays emit not only reduce the amount of time we sleep but interrupt us when we finally get to sleep. As much as we would love to get quality rest, our phones fight for our attention. 

We are continually reminded of the emails we haven’t read yet or are alerted to things we have to do tomorrow. The news apps alert us of the latest sports victory or natural disaster. It is empowering to access all the information we want these days. We can learn a virtually unlimited amount online, but the same things that call for our attention are the same things that are keeping us up later than we should be.

We have energy in the morning and feel sleepy at night because of our circadian rhythm. This is like an internal body clock that signals our body when we need to be awake or asleep. The element that impacts our circadian rhythm the most is light (source). When we constantly expose our eyes to light, our bodies react to that in the way that nature intended, and we stay awake longer. Many electronic devices now come with a feature that disables the blue lights from the displays and leaves your screen with a yellow tint. This is supposed to help with the impacts of your display on circadian rhythm. The exposure to light, however, remains.

Technology can sometimes fail

It’s important to remember that our phones are a piece of technology. Like any other device, they may fail at times. Our phones contain batteries that have been known to explode in rare cases. Phone malfunctioning while people sleep has had fatal consequences in the past. Certain models have also been banned on planes due to the risk of fire caused by the batteries. Although it may be unlikely that the phone under your pillow will severely malfunction when you are asleep, the risk is still there. 

A widespread myth about sleeping next to your phone

Are you exposed to toxic levels of radiation if your phone is close to you while you sleep? The answer is a big NO. Mobile devices adhere to the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) Standard

It’s important to note also that there are different types of radiation. The two general classifications are Ionising Radiation and Non-Ionising Radiation. The type of radiation used in mobile devices is called RF radiation. This radiation is good news for us, “because RF radiation is a form of non-ionising radiation, it cannot cause cancer” (source). 

If you are still concerned about radiation emitted by your phone, you may want to consider using a hands-free set or even a landline. 

Wrapping it Up…

Sleeping near your phone is almost safe and does not pose any immediate risk. However, it’s a good practice to sleep 2 to 3 ft away from the phone and put it in flight mode while resting.

The feeling of waking up in the morning, having a good stretch, and feeling refreshed and ready for the day is incredible. We all want to feel rested. However, the drive to stay connected on our phones becomes a challenge when trying to sleep. Quality sleep affects our day-to-day lives and the real-life relationships we experience outside of the digital realm. 

So what’s the solution? It might be best to leave your phone in another room, or even bring back the alarm clock you spent good money on.

James Lee

James Lee

James is the content director at WhatASleep, a certified sleep science coach from Spencer Institute and our in-house sleep product expert. Over three years, he's personally tested hundreds of mattresses. He likes to keep his reviews simple, objective, and straightforward so that the readers don't have to go through decision fatigue which is often the case while shopping for sleep products.

He hails from Sydney and has a journalism degree from the University of Queensland and an MBA from Melbourne Business School.

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