Do you use your phone in bed before you go to sleep? I would hazard a guess that most of us do, whether we are scrolling social media, chatting to our friends or playing games. But is it good for us? In this post, I will be discussing the pros and cons of using your phone in bed and how it can affect your sleep, health and productivity in both positive and negative ways.
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The Pros of Using Your Phone in Bed
It can help you get to sleep
There are many dedicated sleep apps to help you get to sleep. You just have to type ‘sleep app’ into your app store and so many calming apps come up to help you sleep. These include apps that read you stories or relaxing audio and ones that provide calming activities.
Aside from sleep apps, it can be helpful to play games on your phone to help you fall asleep. I do this quite often, and I find that it’s best to play games that are not too fast-paced or stimulating. Number puzzles work well, for example, Sudoku or Kakuro. When I do these puzzles, I usually start to nod off after a while. When this happens, I turn off my phone and go to sleep.
Another way you can use your phone to help you to fall asleep is by listening to music. You can find relaxing music on YouTube or Spotify, or listen to the radio on your phone. If you live with other people, it’s best to use earbuds so you don’t wake anyone up. I sometimes listen to Classic FM when I can’t sleep. It usually plays gentle, soothing music at night which sends me to sleep in no time.
Many people like to read before bed, and it’s possible to read e-books on your phone. This is less bulky than a physical book so it’s easier to lie comfortably in bed and read on your phone.
You can say goodnight to people
If you live apart from your significant other, you might have a routine of messaging goodnight to each other before you go to sleep. Therefore, you will want to keep your phone on hand until you are just about to sleep. You might also have other friends and family who you like to say goodnight to right before going to sleep. This can help you to feel connected to other people, and to go to sleep with a sense of security, especially if you live alone.
It’s fun and relaxing
For many people, going on their phones is simply a great way to relax and chill out. Scrolling social media, watching TV shows or YouTube videos or playing games can help you to wind down at the end of the day. It can also distract you from any worries you are facing.
The Cons of Using Your Phone in Bed
It can keep you awake
Despite the existence of sleep apps as mentioned earlier, studies show that using a phone in bed can keep you awake in itself. This is because it can keep your brain stimulated and awake, preventing you from getting into ‘sleep mode’. This is especially true if you choose a stimulating activity such as scrolling social media or watching TV shows.
In addition to stimulating the brain, phone screens emit blue light which suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone that makes you sleep. This messes with your circadian rhythm and it can also make it harder to wake up the next day. Most phones have a ‘night mode’ that emits less blue light so it’s a good idea to set your phone to night mode before bed.
The effects of ‘screen time’ on sleep can differ from person to person. Personally, I can still fall asleep easily even if I use my phone in bed. But other people will find that it keeps them awake.
It can cause eye strain
Another negative effect of the blue light emitted from your phone is that it can cause eye strain. Studies suggest that continuous exposure to blue light can cause damage to our retinas. One solution to this is to invest in a pair of blue light blocking glasses. These are inexpensive and they block out the blue light from your phone, which greatly reduces eye strain and damage. I have a pair of these and I have got in the habit of wearing them every time I use my phone or laptop.
There is a possible cancer risk
Phones emit low levels of radiation known as radio frequency energy. There is speculation that this radiation could increase the risk of brain tumors and other health problems if the phone is held close to the head for an extended period of time. This is yet to be officially proven, but it’s something to be wary of.
Therefore, if you do use your phone in bed, It’s a good idea to keep it as far away from your face as possible. Also, don’t sleep with your phone under your pillow. Place it a few metres away or turn it off completely.
It’s addictive and can waste time
It’s possible to end up procrastinating for hours on your phone. Scrolling on social media or reading news sites can be addictive and it can be hard to put your phone away, even if you know you need to sleep. Excessive scrolling wastes valuable hours of sleep and causes you to get into a pattern of going to sleep late and getting up late. This means that you lose productive hours in the morning.
It takes away from ‘thinking time’
Lying in bed at night before you go to sleep is the perfect time to reflect on the day and process your thoughts. It’s quiet, dark and still and there are no pressures or outside influences to distract you. This peaceful time is an opportunity to just be still and do nothing, which we rarely do nowadays in our busy lives.
If you go on your phone until you fall asleep, you will just be feeding your mind with outside influences. You’ll miss out on a chance to clear your head and reflect on your own thoughts.
Alternatives To Using Your Phone in Bed
There are alternatives to most of the pros of using your phone in bed. It’s worth trying these if you want to get the benefits of pros whilst also avoiding the cons.
Get a puzzle book
If you invest in a puzzle book, you can get the benefit of a fun, relaxing activity that will send you to sleep, but without needing to use your phone.
Read physical books
Physical books may be bulkier and less convenient to read in bed compared to a phone, but they are kinder to your eyes and your melatonin levels.
Listen to music on a CD player
Go old-school and listen to music on a CD player (or even a cassette player) if you have one. Then when the CD ends the music will stop so you don’t have to worry about turning it off before you fall asleep. This reminds me of when I was a child – I would fall asleep to a cassette tape or CD every night.
If you don’t have any CDs, you can pick them up very cheaply in charity shops or on eBay. Have a look and see if you can find some CDs of relaxing music to help you sleep.
Send your goodnight messages before you get into bed
If you normally message goodnight to somebody before going to sleep, try to say your goodnights and put your phone away before you get into bed. Then you will still feel connected to your loved ones but you won’t experience the cons of using your phone in bed.
Turn off your phone at night!
Whether or not you use your phone in bed before going to sleep, I recommend turning your phone off completely when you actually settle down to sleep (or at least setting it to airplane mode). Then, there is no way for you to get distracted or woken up by notifications during the night. Also, you are less likely to be tempted to pick up your phone again if you can’t sleep straight away. Turning off your phone also eliminates the possible risks associated with phone radiation during the night.
So, Should I Use My Phone In Bed?
I personally use my phone in bed, and I experience a mixture of pros and cons. My ‘phone time’ helps me to relax at the end of the day, and it doesn’t seem to affect my ability to sleep. I usually start nodding off while I am still on my phone, especially if I am doing a puzzle or not-too-stimulating game. However, I do sometimes get caught in the trap of scrolling on my phone for longer than I intended to. This means I get up later the next day and this affects my productivity.
At the end of the day (pun intended!), it’s up to you whether to use your phone in bed. In terms of health, it’s probably better not to, but you have to weigh up the pros and cons and decide what works best for you. I hope this post has helped you to make the decision more consciously and figure out what is best for your wellbeing and productivity.
Do you use your phone in bed before going to sleep? Does it help you sleep, or keep you awake? Let me know in the comments!