Most people have long since replaced their alarm clocks with smartphones. In addition to ensuring the alarm will still go off in the morning in the event of a power outage, sleeping next to a phone makes it easy to read the news, check your email, and catch up on social media right before you fall asleep--and the second you wake up.

But research says we're paying a big price for the convenience of having a smartphone on our nightstands. In fact, keeping your phone in your bedroom might be taking a much bigger toll on your life than you recognize.

The Downside of Having a Smartphone in the Bedroom

There have been a multitude of studies on how smartphones affect our well-being. The news isn't all bad. Some studies have found that smartphones allow us to have more social engagements.

But of course, many studies have found living in a constantly connected world has some serious downsides too. Researchers have found smartphones can lead to compulsive usage, negative comparisons, and stress from constantly being "on."

Most of those studies look at general smartphone use without specifically examining how smartphones affect us during different times of the day.

So researchers from the University of East London decided to take a closer look at smartphone use during the overnight hours.

The researchers asked participants to complete a series of questionnaires to assess their well-being. Then, the experimental group was asked to refrain from using their phones in their bedrooms for one week.

At the end of the week, participants were given the questionnaires again. The researchers also asked about whether any big events occurred over the past seven days that may affect the results.

The study, which is published in Computers in Human Behavior, found some surprising outcomes. After just one week of not having a smartphone in the bedroom, participants reported:  

  • Increased happiness and better quality of life.
  • Better quality sleep.
  • Reduced anxiety.
  • Improved relationships.
  • Less time-wasting and more focus on other things.
  • Improved well-being.

Researchers also report that the risk of smartphone addiction decreased when phones are left outside the bedroom.

Here are some of the comments participants made about the experiment:

  • "I fell asleep quicker."
  • "I remembered my dreams!"
  • "Happier and not as anxious/self-conscious."
  • "A feeling of calm throughout the week."
  • "Longer conversations with my partner."
  • "I thought about the people I actually have close relationships with."
  • "Getting ready quicker in the morning."

Try It As an Experiment

The most surprising part of the experiment is that 94 percent of the participants said they "might" or "would" consider not sleeping with their phone again.

Once they gave up the habit, they weren't sure they wanted to pick it back again. They recognized the difference it had on their lives.

It's an easy experiment to try on yourself. For just one week, keep your phone out of your bedroom and see what happens. You might find it's a simple but effective way to improve your life.

Published on: Oct 23, 2018