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THE INC. LIFE

New Survey Reveals Startling Insight: Sleeping Near Your Phone Makes You Anxious

A survey by SureCall of 1,137 participants found that using a phone before bed and keeping it near you when you sleep can cause extra stress, make you feel sad, and make you feel dissatisfied with life.

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BY John Brandon - 09 Jun 2018

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

That glowing, chirping device you rely on all day can help you stay productive and connected. Yet, a new survey found that sleeping near your phone can lead to anxious thoughts, sadness, and a feeling of dissatisfaction.

SureCall, a phone signal boosting company, asked 1,137 people about their phone use habits, and the most surprising stat from the study was definitely about how we tend to sleep with or near our phones. (The same survey found that almost 75% of respondents use their phone in the bathroom, which is just gross. Please stop doing that.)

There seems to be a direct tie between those who just leave the phone on a charger in an office and those who keep the device close at hand when they sleep. 30% said they experience anxiety, compared to 13% among those who don't sleep near a phone. Another question for the participants had to do with feeling dissatisfied about life for those they sleep near their phones. 17% said they are more despondent, compared to 8% for those who don't keep a phone handy. Those who feel sad? It's 21% of the "keep the phone near the bed" crowd versus only 13% for those of us who keep the phone in an office.

I've been keeping my iPhone on a wireless charging pad at night that's right next to my computer. More and more, I've been using the device as a way to help me at work, but using it less and less as part of my daily routine away from work.

I've mentioned before how bots like Alexa could eventually replace smartphones, and I'm proof of how that could work. In the car, I tend to activate the Apple Siri bot more often than anything (and skip the touchscreen for navigation). In the living room, I'll ask Alexa for the weather and the Google Assistant bot about my upcoming meetings.

I don't bother checking my phone before bed or as I'm falling asleep, mostly because I'm using voicebots. I do have an Amazon Echo Show next to my bed, which I use occasionally to check on sports scores, but it doesn't ping me with any notifications, and I don't use it for texting or making phone calls (even though it does let you do that).

The problem with keeping a phone near your bed and how that makes us anxious is that we're in a persistent state of awareness--we're on high alert. We're keenly aware that someone might be trying to contact us, and it doesn't help when a phone chirps at us late into the night. We reach over and check, and don't fall asleep. Yet, if we stash the phone in the kitchen or keep it in a laptop bag in an office, we don't think about it as much. We might be receiving notifications still, but we're blissfully unaware of that. As the survey found, the part that makes us anxious is that we can't let go of work or personal contacts; we feel sad if we have to monitor the device or if we realize no one is contacting us.

My advice is to keep your phone safely stowed away at least an hour before bed. The light emitting from the device doesn't help you fall asleep anyway (even if you use the nighttime screen setting). Even Apple has admitted at a recent event that phone addiction at bedtime is a problem, adding features that block all notifications at bedtime.

What about you? If you're checking a phone constantly before bed, try spending one week without the phone and see if you sleep better and feel less anxious. It might just work.

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