Why Smartphones are Harmful to Sleep

Why Smartphones are Harmful to Sleep

Carsyn Hall

Why Smartphones are Harmful to Sleep
Carsyn Hall

Getting enough sleep is a key part of maintaining a positive well-being and helping your brain to work properly. When you don’t get enough sleep, over time you become more vulnerable to short and long term health risks.

Blue light emitted from the technology we use plays a big role in undesirable sleeping conditions such as insomnia. Smartphones were designed to make our lives easier, providing us with information, entertaining us, and making it easier than ever to stay connected to the internet 24/7. While smartphones can make you feel on top of things, that constant connection and the blue light that is emitted is actually unhealthy when trying to fall asleep.

About 72% of children ages six to seventeen sleep with at least one electronic device in their bedroom, which leads to getting less sleep on school nights compared with other kids, according to Sleep. Sleep is a major factor in the growth of children and teens, as it helps the brain function correctly and allows the mind to determine feelings and experiences. Therefore, when sleep is disrupted, it prevents the full potential of a developed brain.

Though some say that scrolling on Instagram helps them wind down, people who consume electronic media in bed are at higher risk for insomnia. The blue light actually suppresses melatonin, the hormone that prepares your body for sleep. While light of any kind can suppress the production of melatonin, blue light at night does so more powerfully, says Harvard Health. Most teens spend the majority of their night scrolling mindlessly on their phones, thinking that it is harmless when in reality, it is detrimental to how they sleep.

“Checking your phone stimulates the brain so we are more active and awake,” says Dr. Walia. “Even just a quick check can engage your brain and prolong sleep.” Taking your phone to bed is a self-sabotaging habit that can cause disease and mental illness to flourish. A study made by Harneet Walia, a sleep disorder expert, shows that some of the most serious potential problems associated with chronic sleep deprivation are high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure or stroke. Lack of sleep disrupts levels of hormones, including serotonin, which is the hormone that promotes happiness, dopamine, and cortisol, that affects thought, mood, and energy.

Sleep is vital for a properly functioning brain and the most important thing you can give your body. Even missing as little as 1.5 hours can have an impact, in which any lack of sleep can affect your ability to think and to remember and process information, according to Cleveland Clinic. During sleep, the brain stores new information, gets rid of toxic waste, allows nerve cells to communicate and reorganize, and restores energy. These processes are critical for overall health, says Sleep Foundation. Therefore, the effect of abstaining smartphone use before bed is beneficial to sleep and allows the body to regenerate.

As much as one third of the adult population reports difficulty sleeping, and sleep disturbance is considered as the second most common symptom of mental distress, according to NCBI. Not only do smartphones distract your body from restoring energy and repairing hormones, but it increases the risk of mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression disorders.

Smartphones are extremely detrimental to how teens sleep. They play a major role in preventing the body to fully develop and carry out the essential functions for a healthy brain, and play a major role in the development of mental illnesses and diseases that could be fatal. Therefore, teens should refrain from using their smartphones at night because of the noxious effects of blue light and the hazardous consequences of lack of sleep.