Sleep quality: how it is affected by mobile phones

in Sleep Research and Insights

SLEEP QUALITY: HOW IT IS AFFECTED BY MOBILE PHONES

Fellow research review of: “Effects of Mobile Use on Subjective Sleep Quality,” a research conducted by Nazish Rafique, Lubna Ibrahim Al-Asoom, Ahmed Abdulrahman Alsunni, Farhat Nadeem Saudagar, Latifah Almulhim, and Gaeda Alkaltham. 

SLEEP QUALITY: HOW IT IS AFFECTED BY MOBILE PHONES

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • 1925 college students between the ages of 17 and 23 years were selected across colleges. The PSQI - Pittsburgh sleep quality index was used to measure sleep quality. The mobile-related sleep risk factors online questionnaire was used to assess the effect of mobile phones on sleep patterns. Individuals tend to operate their mobile phones without supervision or restriction, as seen in younger persons. The average time this category of people spends on their phones is 8.57±4.59 out of 24 hours a day. The majority of teenagers tend to spend more time networking and socializing on their phones. This age category tends to still be on their phones after “light out.” Research shows that they spend about 38.17±11.7 minutes more on their phones. A few of the participants reported putting their mobile phones on airplane mode at bedtime. The majority of the participants always placed their phones close to the pillow when they wanted to sleep. 

  • The world is a global village. Every child and teenager needs a mobile phone for several reasons. Many teenagers get ideas about the latest fashion trends and how to look fashionable solely from social media. A number of these people use their mobile devices to facilitate their education and broaden their knowledge. Males are usually more interested in playing mobile games and staying current in the world of sport. It is not news that many young people are addicted to their phones. A couple of them cannot go for hours without interacting with the phone. The advent of mobile phones is a great leap in technological advancement. Nevertheless, it has its drawback on the sleep health of the youths.

  • myAir app explores questions like “Were you using your phone before falling asleep ?” This gives us an idea of the root of sleep disturbances or poor quality of sleep. As wellness professionals, we can give recommendations on how to maintain good sleeping habits. Sleep is very important to the maintenance of wellness and vitality. It is as important as food, water, and air. Several factors affect the quality of sleep in different individuals. Thanks to this study, we can help clients transition to a greater level of sleep quality. We have also been able to link the emission from mobile phones to interference with sleep patterns.  

 RESULTS

The research reveals that spending at least eight hours looking at a mobile phone screen is related to sleep patterns. Using the phone for extra 30 minutes after putting off the light and keeping it near the pillow has significant effects on sleep health. Such individuals are at high risk of mobile phone-related sleep disorders. These persons usually exhibit poor sleep quality. There is a tendency for sleep latency to increase, which means they may experience difficulty falling asleep. More than 8 hours of looking at a phone screen in a day can lead to sleep disturbances and daytime dysfunction. From the study conducted, people use the mobile phone after turning the lights off, without using the blue light filter. They also placed the phone near the pillow, and these factors played a role in increasing sleep latency and poor sleep quality.

INTRODUCTION TO THE RESEARCH

myAir team is committed to developing nutrient bars that cater to the specific needs of clients. However, it is impossible to treat a condition without fully understanding its origin, predisposing factor, and precipitating factors. Sleep quality is linked to several factors that can either boost or reduce it. People are often busy living fast life, forgetting that they are made of blood, hormones, and neurotransmitters, among other things. Developing a healthy sleep pattern plays a crucial role in maintaining good health as one progress over the years. The sleeping habits that a person adopts in their teenage age may influence their position on the wellness scale.

 In the olden days, young kids and teens were preoccupied with outdoor games. They always come together to talk, meet new people and share ideas. However, teens and school-age children can play video games online from their respective houses in today's world. They have group chats where they have conversations, make audio and video calls. The mobile phone on hand is like having the world in your room. They can share information at any time of the day from the comfort of their homes. Some, when left unmonitored from a young age, get addicted to their phones. They are on their phones for more than eight hours a day. They only fall asleep when their eyes begin to close. Only then do they drop their mobile phones.

Studies around the world have shown that the majority of young people spend several hours on their phones. Even when it is time to sleep, they still play with their phones for a minimum of thirty minutes. Another factor in play is the use or lack of a blue filter after turning off the light. However, the obvious finding from various research shows that using a mobile phone without a blue filter up to 30 minutes after turning off the light is directly related to several sleep problems. The sleep problems include increased sleep latency, sleep disturbances, daytime sleepiness, and poor sleep quality. From the studies, we can blame the blue light emitted from a mobile phone screen for poor sleep quality. 

Furthermore, using the mobile phone to play games, read e-books, or keep oneself entertained on social media can stimulate alertness, distorting the sleep pattern. Finally, placing a mobile phone near the pillows may increase sleep latency and sleep disturbances in a few ways. One is the notification sound, which increases the urge to wake up so you can check it. Another factor is the heat emanating from the phone. It may interfere with sleep waves in the brain. 

INTERACTION BETWEEN SLEEP HEALTH AND MOBILE PHONES

At the end of the day, people usually retire to bed to sleep. However, they usually go to their beds with their mobile phones, especially the teens and young adults. They often invest about 30 minutes or more into their mobile device. Some individuals argue that being on the phone helps to facilitate relaxation. However, this is far from the truth derived from facts. The body secretes the hormone melatonin in the evening to help you relax and fall asleep faster. Using a mobile phone increases alertness, thereby negating the effects of melatonin. The body receives signals to stay alert and awake instead of relaxing. 

The body has an internal clock that signals when to sleep and arouse. The body releases cortisol as the dawn, which promotes alertness and arousal. Subsequently, at sunset, the body begins to release melatonin, which facilitates drowsiness. Mobile phones, however, have blue light, which emits a frequency of a short wavelength. The blue light may significantly impair the production or inhibit the release of melatonin. Hence, the signal for sleepiness is interrupted, and the person is more alert. Excess blue light and a reduced amount of melatonin reduce a person's time in slow-wave and REM sleep. The stages mentioned above of sleep are vital for therapeutic functions and the development of cognitive functions. This leads to poor sleep quality, which can ultimately affect the quality of health.

Inadequate sleep can affect the behavior, mood, and academic performance of a student. It may also influence the endocrine system, which is responsible for physical and mental growth. Mobile phones emit a frequency of 900MHz, which is hazardous to health. Keeping mobile phones under the pillow, which is usual, exposes you to more phone radiation. Consequently, the radiation can cause headaches, muscle pain, and insomnia. 

As young ones, we are all anxious about our mobile devices. If we do not check our mobile phones several times in an hour, we usually feel incomplete. This anxiousness and compulsion to always check our mobile phones impedes our ability to focus on sleep. Spending too much time on social media can promote negative thoughts about self. This could lead to depression, which further interrupts sleep patterns. 

WHY YOU SHOULD AVOID MOBILE PHONES BEFORE BEDTIME

Many of us are guilty of exposing ourselves to mobile phones until we fall asleep. This is a poor sleep habit that must be corrected, especially in the younger generation. The younger ones are more addicted to their phones without knowing the damage being done to their well-being. In this segment, we shall explore the reasons why you should avoid mobile phones before bedtime. Parents and guardians should ensure they check them after turning off the lights for kids who require monitoring when they use the phone. They may still be on the phone, which is bad for sleep quality and the development process.

The light from the screen of a mobile phone is not the best for your body. It interacts with the brain and the retina. The light may damage the retina slowly over time leading to optic dysfunction in later years. This light inhibits the production of melatonin. Blue light has a short wavelength hence;, it can easily interact with melatonin. Melatonin is the chief hormone that regulates the sleep and wake circadian rhythm in humans. When there is a disturbance in the circulation of melatonin, it impairs the ability to fall asleep and ability to wake up at dawn. 

Having a mobile phone close to the pillows when you sleep is the perfect recipe for distraction. A notification may pop up, and you would be tempted to peek. Peeking then progresses into reading other interesting articles or watching funny videos. Doing this tricks your brain into thinking you need to stay awake. The brain then inhibits the sleep center, and the body is more alert at night.

The implication of staying awake for more time during the night takes effect in the morning. Night sleep is the time for restorative sleep when the body builds energy for the next day. Consequently, the individual is sleepy for most of the morning. Thus, daytime efficiency is reduced and can lead to sleep deficiency. Inadequate sleep can increase the risk of developing mood disorders. 

Finally, you should avoid having your phones before bedtime because it can interfere with deep sleep. Notifications, messages, vibrations, and other alerts may cause sleep disturbances. It would help if you could put your mobile phones in silent or airplane mode so that you can sleep without interference. You can put the mobile phone in the cabinet to remove it from sight and promote sleep quality.  

CONCLUSION: SLEEP QUALITY: HOW IT IS AFFECTED BY MOBILE PHONES

The introduction of social media has made mobile phones more addictive now more than ever. Young people tend to use their phones past bedtimes, which negatively impacts sleep quality. From Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and others, there is a temptation that makes you want to pick up the phone to check what is happening in the world. Using a mobile phone during bedtime increases alertness, the opposite of what is needed for great sleep. When browsing the internet or playing games, time goes by before we know it.

Consequently, the individual has lost a good fraction of the time needed for sleep. This results in daytime sleepiness. Lack of sleep reduces the mental alertness needed to learn new things and carry out complex tasks. Apart from causing sleep disturbances, the blue light from mobile phones can damage retinas. 

It is important to reduce the use of mobile phones close to bedtime. It has negative impacts on the sleep quality of children, teenagers, and young adults. At this stage, these groups require adequate sleep so they can exhibit optimal daytime performance. It also helps if you develop a healthy bedtime practice that does not involve screens. It could be reading a chapter of a novel that is interesting and relaxing. Many people own devices but do not fully understand how to maximize them for their health. Most cell phones have the option for night vision, which reduces the emission of blue light. 

The use of mobile phones may lead to insomnia due to persistent sleep disturbances. Studies have shown that individuals who spend too much time on their mobile phones are more restless than those who spend less time. There is also a tendency to consume more stimulating substances like coffee to get through the day. A pattern of difficulty in falling asleep, waking up stressed, and fatigue is common among individuals who spend more time with their phone screen before sleeping. The importance of good sleep cannot be overemphasized. Therefore, the public, especially the young ones, should be educated on developing a healthy sleeping pattern. The hazards of mobile phones to sleep quality and general wellbeing should be generously communicated to create awareness. myAir app, ensures vital information reaches our clients to make informed decisions about their health.

Reference and Footnotes:

Original publication: Effects of Mobile Use on Subjective Sleep Quality

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7320888/

By Nazish Rafique, Lubna Ibrahim Al-Asoom, Ahmed Abdulrahman Alsunni, Farhat Nadeem Saudagar, Latifah Almulhim, and Gaeda Alkaltham. 

Published in 2020

Footnote: No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.

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