Teenagers these days are very attached to their cell phones, and many keep their phones with them at all times—even when they’re sleeping. As a result of this “trend,” many people are concerned about “research” that suggests sleeping close to a phone can increase one’s risk of cancer.
But these fears are completely unfounded because sleeping close to—or even on top of—your cell phone will never be detrimental to your health.
Some may claim that sleeping near your phone is unhealthy because it exposes you to electromagnetic radiation, but studies have shown otherwise. According to a study conducted by the Australian Centre for Electromagnetic Bioeffects Research, when your phone is not being used at all, it only emits a very small amount of radiation that will not affect your sleep quality, memory or general health at all.
Additionally, the radiation emitted by phones is non-ionizing, which means it can’t break apart the chemical bonds in our bodies. Essentially, the radiation is so low-energy that the largest effect it can have is to heat up the molecules in your body. And while that may sound bad—why should your phone be microwaving you?—studies have shown that there are no negative effects of this slight heating from radiation. In fact, the temperature increase is so small it has no measureable effect on the human body’s overall temperature.
So, despite the popularity of this myth, any radiation coming from your cell phone is completely harmless. That is, the radiation it emits while you—and it—are asleep. This does exclude one type of emission: light radiation. While cell phones may not be dangerous to sleep next to, and they won’t give you cancer, they can negatively affect our health in other ways.
The blue light given off by all types of screens, including phone screens, has been shown to delay sleep. That is why it is advised to refrain from using your cell phone right before you sleep. Additionally, browsing social media excessively can lead to depression. But it’s important to remember that all these possible harms are caused by using your phone, not sleeping near it. That misconception is just an urban myth.