The constant attachment to our smartphones prompts many to ask the question “is sleeping next to your cell phone bad?”

The bad news is that constantly sleeping with cell phone on nightstand could be potentially bad for your health.

In the last few years, it has become a trend for smartphone owners to sleep with their cell phones right next to them. The usual place is right beneath the pillow or next to the head for convenience.

However, there have been several research studies conducted that advice against having your phone next to you while sleeping.

The information compiled below sheds some light on exactly why this is so and what you can do to develop better habits to keep a safe distance from cell phone while sleeping.


Is Sleeping Next to Your Cell Phone Bad? – An Overview

Since it’s 2019 already, we all know that cell phones have become a primary essential for all of us. From staying connected with friends and family to getting news and entertainment, we have become dependent on our smartphones.

If you just look around you or observe yourself, you will see that we rarely leave our smartphones behind. Whether you’re a student, a working adult, or stay-at-home parent, your phone is always by your side.

However, the reality is not in favor of this habit.

The 2015 Trends in Consumer Mobility report by the Bank of America reported 71% of their account holders claiming that they fell asleep with a phone next to their head. There is no doubt that this number has already increased.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also affirms that sleeping next to your phone or electrical devices, in general, can be bad for overall health. Overuse and long-term exposure to cell phones can increase the chances of a person developing cancer.

Observing this behavior, the California Department of Public Health or CDPH released comprehensive information and guidelines for smartphone safety. According to these guidelines, cell phones have been linked to cancer and other health implications.

Besides damage in the brain, sleeping next to your phone can also have negative impacts on other organs. For instance, it can lower the production of hormones that are crucial for maintaining your body’s functions.

Another study conducted in Australia also validates the bad impact of cell phones. The study was concentrated on men’s sterility. The result of the study found a relationship between sterility in men, sperm quality and use of a smartphone.

The following are some of the negative impacts that sleeping next to a cell phone can have on your health.

Emission of Radiation and Health Implications

By now we have already established that cell phones potentially have some negative effects on health. So what is it that actually makes these smartphones harmful and prompts people to ask if sleeping next to phones is bad?

Cell phones emit radio frequency or RF energy, which is how they catch signals to transfer information. These signals ping off nearby cell towers. This is how you’re able to send and receive calls and texts.

There are several researchers that believe that this RF energy may be linked to several health risks. The general radiation emission is around 900MHz, which can cause headaches and muscle pains along with other health complications.

Sleeping with cell phone on nightstand can also lead to a lower sperm count and inactive or lower mobility in sperms. The most prominent health complication, however, is brain cancer and tumors in the acoustic nerve and salivary glands.

In 2011, the World Health Organization cautioned that cell phones might have a carcinogenic-type effect on humans. Even though the emission of electromagnetic radiation is small, it can be harmful.

It is especially harmful to children as they have much more delicate skins and bones. This makes them more vulnerable to radiation. Hence, it is highly recommended that parents limit their children’s “screen time” on smartphones.

However, these studies are not definitive in their results. The slight ambiguity comes from the fact that cell phones haven’t been around for long. Long-term repercussions of sleeping near a cell phone are difficult as it is still evolving.

There are some disagreements on whether these radiations actually have an effect. Along with that, scientists also disagree on how great the risk is. With that said, ongoing research and the limited information we have, all recommend caution.

Even though the research is not definitive, and currently ongoing, it is still better to be safe than sorry. Reducing your exposure to these emissions can prevent any possible side effects.

Setting your Pillow on Fire

The next question that demands explanation is “is it bad to sleep with your phone charging next to you?”

Most people nowadays, leave their phones charging overnight right by their bed. This is either for convenience or because they go to sleep using their cell phone. However, this can be a potential fire hazard.

In fact, charging your bed overnight in your bed is equated to leaving a candle burning or your burner on.

There have been a number of fires that were caused by charging phones. As a response to this, a New Hampshire fire department warns people against keeping their phone under the pillow or near their head while it’s charging.

In July 2014, there was a Texas teenager who woke up to a strange smell coming from her pillow. It was a burning smell that was caused by her Samsung Galaxy S4 that had been charging under her pillow overnight.

When she removed the pillow, she saw that her phone had scorched her sheets and mattress. A low-quality and incompatible battery and charger were to blame.

This is why cell phone companies give out clear instructions to not use chargers and cables made by random manufacturers. Most cell phone manuals also come with directions for not covering the phone with bedding or other thick material.

The main risks are frayed or faulty wiring and fluctuation in voltage. A surge in power or frayed wiring can create a spark and increase the risk of a fire being ignited. Along with that, phones can overheat.

While leaving your phone charging on the bed won’t do any damage, provided that it’s not working overtime. The batteries in phones let off heat while they are charging or being used.

Leaving your phone plugged in overnight can overwork the battery, making it even hotter. When it’s further covered by bedding or a pillow, the heat doesn’t escape. This is just a fire hazard waiting to go bad.

Cell Phone Safety Instructions

With that said, being safe and cautious on the subject is better. That is why the FTC and other institutions like the CDPH recommend the following safety instructions:

1. Maintain Distance from your Phone

Don’t have your phone always near you. Keeping even a few feet of distance from your phone will make a difference. Try to use earphones or headsets while you’re on long calls and send texts rather than calling.

Instead of carrying your phone in your hand or pocket, try using a bag or backpack. Also, keep the phone at a distance while sending or receiving big files.

2. Keep a Safe Distance from Cell Phone while Sleeping

From all the explanation above, it is clear that you should not sleep with your phone next to your head or under your pillow. Sleeping with phone on airplane mode might be a better option.

Even on airplane mode, you need to keep the phone at a distance. If you have a queen or king-sized bed, you can try putting your phone on the opposite side table. Or you can leave it on a dresser.

3. Wait for a Good Signal

When you have only one or two bars of service, your phone works harder and emits more radiation. This will expose you to high levels of RF energy. And as we know, this can be harmful.

Cell phones also emit more radiation when they’re transmitting information than when receiving. Some recommend tilting your phone slightly away from your head while talking and bringing it back when listening.

4. Stay Clear of Unreliable Products

The U.S. FTC says that with more studies discussing the impact of cell phone emissions, scam artists promote products that don’t work. You might come across radiation shields that block RF emissions.

Hence, FTC officials advise that you stay clear of these products. Instead of working, these products can possibly emit more energy. This completely defeats its purpose.

So, the question remains: is sleeping next to your cell phone bad?

The answer to this question is that it definitely increases health and safety risks, especially if you leave it charging overnight. Since science is mostly still evolving and more patterns are being studied, there is no concrete answer.

More in-depth research is still required to study the long and short-term effects of sleeping next to a cell phone. Regardless, exercising caution to be on the safe side is recommended.

But if you do accidentally leave it under your pillow once or twice, don’t feel too bad about it!

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