We’ve all been there. You wake up in the middle of the night and grab your smartphone to check the time — it’s 3 am — and see an alert. Before you know it, you fall down a rabbit hole of email and Twitter. Sleep? Forget it. Well, I’ve found a $7 solution: an oldfashioned alarm clock. My smartphone has been banished from the bedroom. Sure, you can flip your phone to quiet mode. But the draw to roam in the early hours is powerful. Sleep researchers say this isn’t good for you. You might as well get up and drink a shot of espresso. “It’s a very slippery slope, once you’ve picked up your phone, to see what time it is, to checking your email, to lying awake with anxiety,” said Dr David M Claman, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center. “If you wake up in the middle of the night and check your phone, you will inevitably get frustrated and worried by something you’ve seen, leading your body to tense up.”
Then it’s game over. You’re tossing and turning, thinking about an email, a text or a meeting in six hours.
Claman said mobiles in the bedroom have led to a rise in sleep-related complaints from his patients. “For people I see in their 20s and 30s, the phone is becoming a more common contributing factor to insomnia,” he said.
Some large, long-term studies on sleep disorders in the UK and Finland have found that stress-related issues have led to a rise in insomnia over the last decade. In the US, according to the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health, as many as 40% of Americans suffer from insomnia in a given year. Ten to 15% have chronic insomnia.
All these sleep interruptions lead to work problems. A 2011 study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found insomnia costs $2,280 in lost productivity per American worker every year. That adds up to $63 billion a year for the nation. NYT NEWS SERVICE