Mr Venki Sundaram
Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon
MD FRCOphth MRCOphth BMBCh BSc Harpenden / Cobham Clinic: 01582 714451 Bushey: 0208 901 5561

What are the Effects of Using Your Phone at Night?

Women using her phone before bed in the dark

For many of us, our mobile phones have taken over our lives. However, whilst they are rarely more than an arm’s length away, there can be a number of damaging effects of using a backlit device at night. In this article, we will run through some common problems and how to combat them in order to achieve healthier long-term eyesight.

Is it Bad to Look at Your Phone Before Bed? 

The answer to this depends on the amount of time you spend on your phone. When using a phone – or any backlit device for that matter – it emits a blue light which, in turn, can make it more difficult for you to fall asleep.

Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum and the most significant source is natural sunlight. The eye is less effective at blocking blue light, and subsequently, nearly all visible blue light passes through the front of the eye. Various studies have shown that people who have been nighttime scrolling before bed take an average of 10 minutes longer to fall asleep as opposed to just reading – and there are medical reasons as to why.

The Side Effects of Using Your Phone at Night

Suppresses melatonin

The main issue with looking at your phone before bed is the blue light from the screen. This suppresses melatonin. A low level of this hormone can heighten the risk of insomnia as well as tiredness and irritability during the day.

According to The National Sleep Foundation, it is best to stop using electronic devices, such as your phone, at least 30 minutes before you sleep. You will be surprised at the difference it makes in the morning and the time it takes to fall asleep in the first place. 

Disrupts your circadian clock rhythm

Another large side effect of your late night scrolling or facetime with your grandchildren is the disruption of your circadian clock rhythm, which is your body’s internal clock that runs on a 24-hour cycle carrying out processes and essential functions relating to your overall physical and mental health.

Also leading to heavily broken sleep, the blue artificial light at night time can confuse your brain and delay and disrupt the clock.

Delay on REM sleep 

Another factor to consider is the delay in REM sleep that is induced by late night scrolling. Checking your phone right before bed can lead to lingering thoughts, anxiety, and distracted emotions which leaves you staring at the ceiling fan feeling wide awake for hours, and REM sleep is a vital part of your sleep cycle.

Top Tips to Stop using your Phone at Night

For all of the benefits that your phone gives you during the day, such as being able to be connected to everyone and making your life easier, it does the opposite in the evening and can hinder your physical and mental health depending on the severity of your use. Here are some top tips to avoid using your phone late at night; 

Iphone on a wooden table with apps on show
  • Turn off as many notifications as possible

Even if you don’t click through to the specific app that had the push notification, you still looked at your phone which can delay sleep or unintentionally make yourself more awake.

  • Charge your phone out of arm’s reach

This will then stop the temptation to go on your phone for hours before you sleep.

  • Fall asleep to a podcast or calming music from a smartspeaker

This way you can use your voice to get the audio started instead of looking at the bright phone screen.

  • Talk to your eye doctor

On your next appointment at Herts Eye Surgeon discuss blue light protection and digital device use with Mr Venki Sundaram

Herts Eye Surgeon Services and Surgery

If you are suffering from poor eyesight then please make an appointment with Mr Venki Sundaram and contact us for a consultation at the Cobhan Clinic in Luton, Spire Harpenden Hospital or Spire Bushey Hospital.