The Newton, New Hampshire Fire Department recently released a public warning about charging cellphones and tablets on your bed. With most families owning multiple hand-held devices, it’s not uncommon for both parents and children to sleep with cellphones, tablets, and other forms of technology in the same room. In fact, over 50% of teens report falling asleep with their cellphones actually charging in their beds, often under their pillows or sheets.
Phone Charging Fire Hazard
As one New Hampshire family found out the hard way, this habit can pose a fire threat to the entire family. Chargers for phones, tablets, laptops, and gaming devices generate excessive heat; without enough ventilation, fires can break out.
Incidents like this are reminiscent of the recent Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall (2). A faulty battery increased the risk of fire hazard, leading to at least 112 unsuspecting Samsung customers waking up to a fried phone (or worse). While it’s important to pay attention to product recalls like this, making the habit of keeping your phone away from flammable sheets and bedspreads regardless of the type of tech you’re using can help protect your family.
Additional Risks of Charging Your Phone In Bed
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The added benefit of keeping your screen away from your bed is reducing the negative effects it can have on your sleep cycle.
Your body’s natural “clock” is regulated by light; for the majority of human existence, this was mainly the sun. Today, however, scientists have found that looking at blue light (the type of light emitted by cellphone, tablet, and television screens) can influence your body’s circadian rhythms so that the natural release of sleep-inducing hormones is disrupted. (3)
Not only does blue light ruin your quality sleep, the effect extends to your risk of serious diseases like diabetes and even cancer. According to a Harvard study, when people’s sleep cycles are regularly changed, their leptin hormones decreased (so they didn’t feel full after eating) and their blood sugar levels increased. (3) Multiple studies have also linked working at night and nightly exposure to lights to cancer, heart disease, and obesity (3).
What might be the most concerning factor however, is that new technologies have a notable element of addiction. In the following video, Simon Sinek discusses the very real and serious implications of the modern overuse of technology:
How to Reduce Your Risk
Harvard Medical School has released the following guidelines to the public for safe screen time (3):
- Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin.
- Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.
- If you work a night shift or use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue-blocking glasses or installing an app that filters the blue/green wavelength at night.
- Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your improve mood and alertness during daylight.
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