Dubai: While convenient, keeping your mobile phone at arm’s length when one is sleeping has proven to affect quality of sleep, and even health.
Research conducted by several universities and doctors has shown that radiation emitted from mobile phones, especially 3G and 4G-enabled smartphones, delays and disrupts sleep.
Dr Saeed Taghizadeh, specialist neurologist at Prime Hospital, pointed out that electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile phones also interferes with the body’s ability to heal.
He referred to research led by by Professor Bengt Arnetz, a Swedish professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which found that using a handset right before bed prolongs the amount of time it takes for people to reach a deep state of sleep.
“Anything that disrupts the quality of our sleep impacts our attentiveness and irritability in the short and long term.”
While productive sleep helps our bodies recover form the stresses of the day, the affects of being exposed to cell phone radiation through out the night is more likely to be evident in children and adolescents.
Dr Taghizadeh explained that sleeping beside a phone is especially bad for children and teenagers who typically need more sleep than adults.
“It can cause mood and personality changes such as [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder] ADHD-like symptoms and depression.”
Dr Fatima Nazir, general practitioner at Gardens Speciality Clinic, told Gulf News that experts are concerned about the effects of the radiation, as some research suggests that sleeping with your mobile by your bedside can cause dizziness and headaches, and can even trigger insomnia and other sleeping disorders.
“At the very least it makes us hyper vigilant so our sleep is more likely to be disturbed and we don’t get enough of the restorative sleep we need,” said Dr Nazir.
What happens when you sleep?
The hormone cortisol that signals us to wake up, and the hormone melatonin, which makes us sleepy are controlled by the light-sensitive cells in the brain.
“Light stimulates cells in the retina, the area at the back of the eye that transmits messages to the brain, and the light-sensitive cells inform the body what time it is,” explained Dr Fatima. When sleeping beside a mobile phone or tablet, the blue light emitted from the device has a stimulating effect. The cells in the retina are most sensitive to blue light because of a pigment called melanopsin, which is why reading on a phone or a tablet before bed is more likely to keep a person awake than reading a book using a bedside light.
“For this reason, experts advise a ban on screen time two to three hours before bed,” said Dr Fatima.
With smart phones replacing most traditional devices such as alarm clocks and flash lights, sleeping with your phone in the next room can be a big inconvenience.
However, it can be the solution for a good night’s sleep.