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with Michael Breus, PhD, ABSM

This blog has now been retired. We appreciate all of the insights that Dr. Breus has provided to the WebMD community.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cell Phones and Sleep

Here’s one more reason to turn off those cell phones long before bedtime: they may mess with your sleep!

Earlier this year a new report emerged indicating that people who were exposed to the radiation emitted by cell phones just before bedtime took longer to get to sleep and spent less time in deep sleep – that magical place where your body refreshes and restores itself.

These findings confirm other studies done, including one that showed teens who use their cell phones late at night complain of tiredness. (And we all know that any teen who has a cell phone uses it for as long as possible at night.)

Ironically the study was funded by the Mobile Manufacturers Association, which of course called the results “inconclusive.”

I love reports like this, because whether or not it’s true that cell phones disrupt sleep patterns, it gives me one more reason to tell people to turn them off! We still don’t know if mobile phones can also increase one’s risk for brain cancer (although I think the jury is leaning toward a no on that one), but regardless, I think we could all live a little better if we cut back on how long we spend on our cell phones. Unless someone is telling you a bedtime story over the phone, most conversations tend to be stimulating. And the mere act of having a lively discussion with someone while holding a phone to your ear is not all that relaxing. I’d rather be getting a massage from my spouse and sharing funny stories from the day, or plunging my imagination into a book.

The fact cell phones may disrupt sleep shouldn’t freak you out, but it should be a wake-up call to at least think about removing cell phones from your life within an hour before bedtime. In my book, Beauty Sleep, I go into great detail about the habits of good sleepers and which things you should do – or not do – in preparation for sound sleep.

Giving yourself time to unwind and literally power down before slipping into bed is key to healthy sleep. And now we can add cell phones to our list of no-nos. I know that for some people this can be a challenge, especially if you’re 100 percent wireless and this would mean making NO calls at all before bedtime. But consider that a luxury in this day and age. If you can turn not only your cell phones off but also yourself OFF for at least 30 minutes prior to bedtime, I bet you’ll feel a world of difference the next day…and the day after that.

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Posted by: Michael Breus, PhD, ABSM at 7:02 am

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