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Monday 11 March 2024

Without a phone in the bedroom, you'll sleep better and wake up more rested

Next Friday is International Sleep Day. This whole week, sleep specialist Beter Bed is therefore giving extra attention to the importance of sleeping well with, among other things, the results of a practical study among test sleepers. 180 people kept a sleep diary for a fortnight in February, during which they slept one week with and one week without their phone in the bedroom. Sleep scientist Merijn van der Laar then analysed the results. Main conclusion: 88% of people (almost) always take their phone into the bedroom, but the sleep diaries showed that abandoning this habit led to significantly more rested waking up and better sleep quality.

New advice: phone out of the bedroom but within earshot

Important reasons for taking the phone into the bedroom are the alarm clock function (58%) and reachability in case of an emergency (26%). Yet 31% of participants reported sleeping better without a phone in the bedroom. 61% reported sleeping just as well and only 8% reported sleeping worse. The main reasons for better sleep were being unable to be distracted by social media and also not being tempted to look at the phone during waking hours at night. The smaller group that reported sleeping less well without a phone described that this was due to fear of missing out or feeling more insecure. Scientist Van de Laar therefore comes up with new advice for better sleep: "Preferably put your phone in the room next to the bedroom or in the corridor. If there is something important, you will hear the phone ring, but the temptation to keep scrolling for long periods of time is considerably less, giving your brain more rest."

Phone usually does not add value

Interestingly, participants reported sleeping just as long during the week with and without a phone, but rated their sleep quality better during the period when they did not have their phone in the bedroom. The average rating rose from 6.8 to 7.0 on a 10-point scale. That may seem little, but is a significant improvement. Moreover, participants also felt better rested when they woke up. The results highlight an interesting paradox: although the vast majority of participants almost always take their phones to bed with them, only 37% of them missed their device. In other words, 63% did not miss the device. Women reported missing the phone more often than men. The figures indicate a strong habit when it comes to taking it with you when it is not necessary and can even cause poorer sleep quality. Some people reported that being away from the phone meant they were more in touch with their partner, rather than occupied with their phone.  

Added value compared to other studies

The data from the study fit with previous scientific studies, including from RIVM showing that smartphone use in adolescents is associated with worse sleep (van Kerkhof et al., 2018). A previous analysis of 14 studies found that excessive phone use is associated with sleep problems (Yang et al., 2020). The beauty of the current study is that we conducted an experiment in a group of participants which, like the RIVM study, allowed us to examine not only an association but also an effect of omitting the phone, only now in a three times larger group of adults. Furthermore, it is also a new fact that people often take their phones with them, but actually the largest group does not miss them. Rather, it seems to be a habit, and for most of us it seems good to create another habit in its place: sleeping phone-free.  

Sleep better, live better

Sleeping better is good for your health. Beter Bed has therefore christened this week 'Week of Sleep'. Perijn Hoefsloot, responsible for marketing and customer experience at Beter Bed explains the motivation behind this research: "A good night's sleep does not only depend on the sleeping comfort your bed offers, your sleeping environment involves much more than that. We get a lot of questions from consumers about the effect of phone use on sleeping well, so we put it to the test and asked 180 people to go to bed one week with and one week without a phone and keep a sleep diary of their findings. The results of this study fit with our mission Better sleep, better life: making conscious choices about what we take to bed, think feelings, thoughts and stuff like a phone, can significantly improve sleep quality. It's about people creating an environment conducive to relaxation and undisturbed sleep."

(This is a translation of a Dutch press release of Beter Bed)

Read the full Dutch press release

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