Friday, July 16, 2010

Why iPhone and Droid Aren't Smart for the Bedroom

Smartphones more than ever are capturing the hearts of American consumers. Look at most tech blogs these days and you’ll find a vast number of articles are about Apple’s iPhone 4 or Google's latest Android phone. It’s not hard to see why. The modern “super phone” does it all; it’s a phone, a computer and an entertainment system rolled into a handheld device.

Just don’t bring these devices into the bedroom. Smartphones are smaller, but functionally similar to the supposedly insomnia-causing iPad.

Obviously that story reported by countless news outlets in April was a bit overblown. iPads, smartphones or computers with bright screens won’t cause insomnia outright, but they can be detrimental to your sleep.

If you’re familiar with the concepts of sleep hygiene you would know that bright screens can prevent you from feeling tired. The blue and green light emitted from the screen can alter the natural human circadian process by preventing the body from secreting melatonin. Sleep hygiene also advise against using your bedroom for activities other than sleep and sex.

Going against both of these recommendations by using your iPhone in bed is a recipe for disaster, right? Not necessarily. Some people can get away with using smartphones in bed without the slightest change in sleep. It’s kind of like how some people prefer to fall asleep with the television on.

The Sleep Education Blog of course doesn’t advocate either practice. We recommend turning off all electronic devices at least a half hour before bed, especially if you typically have a difficult time falling asleep. Try reading a book, listening to music or a podcast or doing light chores around your home instead.

Even your run-of-the-mill cell phone may interfere with sleep. Parents complain teens and young adults may stay up too late texting or talking to friends. Some studies have gone so far as to suggest the radio frequency field can alter your sleep architecture just by keeping your cell phone on the nightstand. Other studies have reported no such effects.

Because there are so many conflicting reports, we don’t know exactly what kind of other effects cell phones have on our sleeping patterns. So maybe it’s best just to be safe and leave cell phones and smartphones out of the bedroom.

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