WEB & TECH / SEP. 21, 2014
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Mobile Phones May be Affecting Your Sleeping Patterns

Our mobile phones keep us connected to the world. They allow us to check our emails, connect with clients, and even do our banking. They’re useful during the day, but how do they affect us at night?

According to a 2012 poll, 64.52% of individuals aged 18 to 44 slept with their phones in reach. Individuals do not like being ’unplugged.’ There is a common guilt associated with not returning texts or even emails. The technology to stay connected is right at our fingertips.

Think about having your phone beside your bed. If a text is received, the light or sound may wake you up. This is an obvious disruption; what other ways are mobile phones affecting our sleep? The following aspects of mobile phone use may be affecting the quality and amount of sleep you’re getting.

The Connection Between Light and Our Sleep Patterns

Our sleep cycles are highly reliant on the hormone melatonin. Melatonin is found within the brain, as it’s produced and released from the pineal gland. How does the pineal gland know when to increase production and release melatonin?

The optical nerve found within our eyes, communicates whether or not it’s light or dark. This is done through cells within our retina. When it’s dark, the pineal gland kicks into high gear. Melatonin is then produced, and we feel sleepy. When we are exposed to light in the middle of the night, the pineal gland then shuts down. Therefore, when you check your phone in the middle of the night, you’re disrupting your sleeping patterns.

Radiation and Sleep Quality

A study looked at mobile phones, radiation, and sleep quality. It was found that radiation inferred with non-REM sleep. The exposure to radiation, increases the level of electrical activity in our brains. Due to radiation, it took longer for individuals to reach the deeper stages of sleep. In one study, it was found that those who were exposed to their mobile phones, took an average of six minutes longer to reach the deep stages of sleep.

Lack of Sleep and Your Work Day

When you do not get enough sleep, you are more likely to increase your risk of work place accidents. Accidents don’t just increase; concentration levels and focus decrease. This affects the way we make decisions. When we’re faced with a tough decision, you need high levels of concentration and attention in order to assess the situation as a whole. If you’re someone who is successful in your career, there is no doubt that you have been faced with some hard decisions. You may even be faced with hard decisions daily. 

When it comes to learning, you have to process new skills. The lack of concentration also affects how effectively you learn. When you haven’t had enough sleep, your cognitive functioning suffers. This is directly related to the way we form memories. When you sleep, your memories are transferred from your short-term memory, to your long-term memory. These memories are crucial in terms of what you learnt.

Lack of sleep is also related to mood. When we do not get adequate amount of sleep, we become more irritable and emotional. If you’re in a bad mood, it affects your work and your work environment.

How to Get a Good Night’s Rest

We know sleep is important, yet some of us struggle to get a full night’s sleep. The following tips will allow you to feel more well rested for your work day:

  1. The first and most obvious is your mobile phone. You don’t need it when you’re sleeping. When you have it by your head, your intent is to use it. Many have become enslaved to their mobile devices. From the moment you go to bed until the time you awake, you’re meant to be doing one thing – sleeping. Put your mobile phone in another room. If you need to use your phone for an alarm, put it on the opposite side of the room. Make sure you turn the screen brightness all the way down. As well, put your phone on silent so that there aren’t any disruptions. 
  2. Start your day early. If possible, go to the gym before work. This will not only get you focused for the day, but it has been linked to better sleep. It’s not only beneficial to get your exercise in early, but your caffeine fix as well. Don’t have any coffee after noon. Coffee has a half life of six hours, meaning a coffee you drank at 4pm, may affect you at night. 
  3. Eat better, it makes a difference. Make sure you’re eating breakfast, as your body uses energy when you’re asleep. Then, eat healthy snacks throughout the day. This will keep your neurotransmitters and hormones in balance, which is essential for a good night sleep. Eat a balanced diet, including foods high in the B-complex vitamins. Vitamin B6 for instance is linked to serotonin production. This is the neurotransmitter that affects our mood, appetite, and sleep.

Focus on your current lifestyle. Are you skipping breakfast and lunch, then eating heavy, fatty foods before bed? Are you working out at 9pm? Some of the choices you’re making during the day, may be affecting how you sleep.

If you’re not sleeping well, assess your current sleeping patterns. If you sleep with your mobile phone, this is the first clue that your sleeping patterns may be affected. It’s not that hard to detach yourself from this device. So, dig out that old alarm clock and leave your phone in another room.

Photo credit: empoweringblog

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