Smartphone use before sleep a health risk

by | Mar 1, 2014 | Biz/Tech

Aabida Dhanji
Biz/Tech Reporter

Using a smartphone at night can lead to problems in sleep patterns and health issues for many people, according to health specialists.

Since smartphones have become more popular, people have been using their phones for games, texting, social networking, emailing and many other functions but experts believe various health issues can arise from such usage, especially at night.

“The bright light from the phone can cause chemical signals in the brain which results in feeling more awake, or essentially shifting your circadian rhythm forward,” said James Sayegh, the technical director of the North Toronto Sleep Centre.

The interaction with whatever you are doing can cause mental stimulation that creates a similar effect to keep you awake, he said.

“The bed is supposed to be for sleep and sex, period,” said Sayegh. “The bed is a place to turn off the worries of the day and rest. When your work emails are right there, it doesn’t work.”

Lack of sleep caused by smartphones often results in other health risks, including metabolic and cardiovascular risks, he added.

Many students at Humber concede they use their phone in bed at night before going to sleep.

“I’ve always had a smartphone since I was a teenager, I think my sleeping pattern has changed, and I think it might keep me up at night more than it should,” said 21-year-old Anna Zaphf, a first year student in the Fitness and Health program at Humber College.

She uses her phone mostly for texting, Facebook and Instagram, she said.

“Less sleep, more time on the phone and it definitely affects sleep patterns,” agreed 22-year-old Nicholas Delplavignano, a student in Humber’s  Business Marketing program.

He uses his phone for apps and texting, he said.

“It hurts and distracts the eyes,” Delplavignano said.