Behavioral Health, Mental Health, Substance Abuse
Sleeping with one’s cellphone: The impact of mobile phones on sleep quality, relationships, perceived health, and academic performance
(School of Public Health (UMD) Behavioral and Community Health Undergraduate Student)
Purpose While technology use is pervasive, its impact is not obvious. An emerging concern is that cellphones may be interfering with young people’s sleep. This pilot research examined among the association between cellphone night placements and sleep patterns, relationships, and academic performance. Methods Through professional links and connections across the United States, this study recruited a convenience sample of 353 17 to 24 year olds to complete an anonymous survey, administered through Survey Monkey. After completing a consent form, participants responded to questions about demographics, technology use, sleeping patterns, dating relationships with intimate partners, perceived health, and academic performance. Results Around a fifth (18.5%) of these young people slept with cellphones in their beds or under their pillows. While they slept, another 71.2% kept cellphones on their bedside tables. Around 80% of participants reported that they used their cell phones “all the time” as alarm clocks. Gender, age, self-reported SES, and student status were not significantly associated with sleeping with one’s phone; however, one’s ethnicity (χ2 = 9.1, p< 0.05), employment status (χ2 = 3.9, p< 0.05), and residence type (χ2 = 10.9, p< 0.05) were significantly associated with having a cell phone in one’s bed. Those who slept with their cellphones reported significantly less sleep on weeknights compared to those whose cellphones remained outside of their beds (Student t=2.0, p< 0.05). Reported sleep quality was poorer for those who slept with their cellphones (Student t=2.7, p< 0.01). Most participants were ambivalent about technology’s impact on their own romantic relations. When sleeping with their partner, 35% reported that their partner’s phone had woken them up in the middle of the night. Those who slept with their cellphones perceived their health to be poorer than those who did not sleep with their cellphones (Student t=2.0, p< 0.05). Among students, cellphone night placement was not associated with GPA or satisfaction with academic performance. Conclusions Practically all young people sleep within arm’s reach of their cellphones. Having the cell phone within one’s bed seems related to sleep duration and quality. More research, including experimental designs, needs to be conducted to explore how sleeping with one’s cellphone affects aspects of a young person’s relationships, behaviors, and health.