How Far Away Should Your Phone Be When You Sleep?

So, we’re all guilty of being too attached to our phones. They're so easy to pick, connect with others, relieve boredom, and do thousands of different tasks that help us in our daily lives. But this attachment can go too far.

For example, it’s not healthy for you to sleep with your phone. It’s distracting and bright, and the signals that come and go from your phone at night can disrupt your brain and give you headaches.

So it’s best to keep your phone at least three feet away from you while you sleep, more if you can. While you don’t need to go as far as putting your phone in another room while you sleep, keeping your phone away from you is proven to help you get a better night’s sleep.

Why should you keep it way?

EM Radiation

EM radiation is short for electromagnetic radiation. It’s from the signals sent to and from your phone carrying data, texts, notifications, and more. Moreover, it’s still unclear how bad these signals are for you.

The same electromagnetic radiation is used in WiFi routers, extenders, Bluetooth devices, and more. In today’s world, electromagnetic radiation is constant, so limiting your exposure is a good idea.

By keeping your phone near you or the bed, you’re exposing your head to a lot of electromagnetic radiation you don’t need to. Too much exposure can lead to headaches and trouble sleeping.

Also, you should strive to limit your exposure outside of sleeping hours. For note, it might be best to not sleep on your phone, to keep your phone a foot away from your head, and use text and speakerphone options instead of regular calls. 

Blue Light That Disrupts Sleep Cycles

One of the most important hormones for regulating sleep in your body is melatonin. Melatonin promotes a state of quiet wakefulness which can help you fall asleep faster and longer. But phones and other screens limit melatonin production and can disrupt your circadian rhythm.

The blue light emitted from screens mimic daylight and tricks our bodies into thinking they should stay awake, interrupting our sleep cycle. So, no matter how much you want to scroll through social media feeds instead, you should put your phone away about an hour before bedtime.

If you still don’t feel sleepy, pick up a book, or do something that doesn’t involve a screen. It will help you fall asleep and stay asleep longer, improving your overall health.

Vibrations and Notifications Disturb Sleep

So, you might think that scrolling on your phone or playing a game can be relaxing. Well, not necessarily not necessarily.

The primary reason we keep our phones so close to us while we sleep is so we can be contacted immediately if there’s an emergency. However, this possible emergency or the possibility of someone important contacting us places stress on our minds.

How many times have you checked a notification on your phone or gotten a call in the middle of the night that was a life-or-death situation? Probably not much. And likely not anything that couldn’t wait until morning.

So put your phone on Do Not Disturb and keep it far away from where you sleep so you won’t be tempted to check it. Once you get your phone away from you and focus on sleep, you’ll find your mind is much more at ease.

Also, vibrations from notifications can seriously disturb sleep patterns, and wake you up in the middle of the night, so your phone should be completely silent before nodding off to bed if you choose to keep it on your bed rather than beside it.

Fire Hazard

Phones suddenly bursting into flames is very rare. But it does happen. And if that phone happens to be under your pillow, your head will be the first thing to catch fire. 

Moreover, overheating phones can kill batteries, so you should keep the phone off of your bed to prevent you from rolling on top of it. Ultimately, it’s unsafe to have any electronics on or around your bed, as there’s always the possibility of fire.

You can place your phone on a nightstand next to your bed, but remember that it should be far enough away to prevent sparks from flying and lighting your mattress on fire.

How to Stay Safe While Sleeping?

Now that you know it’s a bad idea to have your phone physically close to you while sleeping, you can take steps to prevent radiation, anxiety, circadian rhythm interruptions, and possible fires.

Keep Your Phone Away

Keeping your phone at least three feet away from your head can cut down on EM radiation, prevent fires, and stop any thoughts of checking it randomly throughout the night. This is a minimum safe distance from cell phone radiation, and keeping it farther away from the bed is even better.

If you use your phone as an alarm, placing it away from your bed will force you to get out of bed and turn it off. That will help you hit snooze less often and wake up on time every day. Also, placing the phone farther away will help you check it less often and get a whole night of deep sleep if you have a phone addiction.

Using Airplane Mode

If you can’t keep your phone that far away from you, then do the next best thing and put your phone on airplane mode. Airplane mode is where all communications between your phone, the towers, and even other devices are cut off.

Since your phone isn’t receiving or communicating any signals, EM radiation is significantly reduced. While your phone always gives off a little electromagnetic radiation, it will still help you limit the amount your head is exposed to.

Plus, phones on airplane mode won’t receive calls, texts, or data, halting most notifications. You should still put your phone on Do Not Disturb to prevent internal messages, but you’ll be able to sleep much more soundly with Airplane Mode on.

Blue Light Filters

If you can’t resist the temptation to get on your phone or other screens before bedtime, you should try to limit the amount of blue light you take in. Special filters prevent blue light from leaking from screens and ruining sleep.

This is a good option if you need to work before bed or use a phone, E-reader, or tablet for your bedtime routine. You can buy blue light filters for these products that you can apply directly to the screens.

Or you can get a pair of blue light glasses. They filter out blue light and can be used with any device, including TVs. Some blue light will still leak in, but it will be less than if you stared directly at the screen.

Turning You Phone Off

If you don’t use your phone as an alarm, then just turn off your phone. This prevents messages, notifications, vibrations, and EM radiation; if you don’t plug your phone into the charger, there are no fires.

This is better than keeping your phone away from your head. If you experience an emergency, it will still be closed. You need to turn it on. Many people use their phones as alarms, meaning this option isn’t viable.

Also, turning off your phone means you’ll have to wait for it to boot up, which can be difficult. This option isn’t for everybody, but if you think it’s the best option for you, then go for it.

Limiting Screen Time Before Bed

To promote healthy sleep and prevent interruptions to your circadian rhythm that governs your sleep-wake cycle, you should have a cut-off time for electronics before bed. 

9 o’clock is a good time; instead, you try relaxing, like reading, taking a bath, knitting, or other calming activities to help you fall asleep. A no-electronics period will also help you focus on things other than screens, which can be distracting in the best of times from hobbies or spending time with others.

If you simply can’t give up your screens, at least keep them away from your bed. Once you hit the sack, there are no screens until the following day – this will at least be associated with your mind that your bed is where you sleep and not where you play Candy Crush all night.

Healthier Sleep With Less Disruption: Phone-Less Sleep

Now that you know your phone is the antithesis of a good night’s sleep, it's time to do something about it. Try to reduce screen time at night, keep your phone away from you, focus on hobbies, and put your phone on Airplane and Do Not Disturb Mode.

You may not even realize what a huge relief it is to have your phone away from you while you’re sleeping until you’re lying in bed with no worries about upcoming events, important things you need to do tomorrow, or emails you need to send.

Phones can significantly help our lives, but they're also huge distractions when trying to get some peaceful rest. So unplug, keep your phone away from your bed, and focus on rest for a busy day ahead.