Last updated on December 14th, 2016
From back pain to temporary blindness, using your smartphone in bed is fraught with hazards.
Furthermore, using your smartphone while you’re lying down can lead to physical discomfort including cervical and lumbar pain.
If that’s not enough to worry about, using your smartphone in bed can also damage your our eyes terribly and even cause temporary blindness.
But if you really, really have to use your phone in bed, please follow these tips to minimize any of the negative effects of browsing in bed.
1. Dim your phone to its lowest brightness
When you’re using your phone in bed with the lights off or in a dark environment, lower the screen brightness to the level you’re comfortable with. Some phones automatically sense the ambient light levels but I always slide to 0 on the brightness bar as anything higher is too harsh to me. Also, don’t let the screen shine straight into your eyes but bend down your smartphone at a 45 degree angle instead.
2. Don’t use your phone while laying on your side
A 2014 study found that side sleeping raises the internal pressure of the eye and can hasten deterioration of the eye. The eyeball ends up being compressed by your pillow resulting in insufficient blood supply which could causes blurring and double vision.
3. Don’t look at the phone on your stomach
Lying on your stomach affects blood circulation in your elbows and to your brain. Maintaining such a posture is an easy way to give you dead arms and make you feel very tired. You may fall asleep even the phone is on. In addition, raising your neck to above pillow height can cause neck pain and pressure on your lower vertebrae.
4. The best posture is lying on your back
When you’re using your phone on your back, every part of your body is well supported because your weight is evenly distributed across your frame. However, your arms and elbows are likely to feel tired if you are holding your phone in the air for any period of time. One way of preventing this is to put pillows under arms to prevent them from getting tired.
5. Eliminate blue light
Even if you’ve dimmed the brightness of your screen, your phone will still be emitting light with a blueish hue. Blue light keeps you awake by suppressing the natural production of melatonin. Fortunately, there are several apps that can help.
F.lux is the best app for managing blue light, but unfortunately it’s only available on mobile if you root your Android device, or have a Jailbroken iPhone. However, iPhone users running iOS 9.3 or later can now get F.lux-like functionality in Night Shift mode. Similarly, Android users can download Twilight, which has nothing to do with teenage vampires, but has everything to do with minimizing harmful blue light before bedtime.
6.Turn a lamp on
Try not to use smartphone in a very dark room for a long time. That may cause a type of visual impairment known as accommodative spasm. This happens when you’ve been focussing intensely for a long period – imagine a scientist looking for hours through a microscope. When the eyes finally relax, they go into ‘spasm’ trying to accommodate the new focussing distance.
This can also happen when your eyes need to keep adjusting between a very bright screen and dark environment. If the brightness contrast is too big, the eye’s ciliary muscle, which controls focussing, can’t relax. This can cause temporary blurred vision or short-sightedness. To avoid the problem, turn on a bedside lamp on to reduce brightness contrast.
7. Always look at the screen with both eyes
Perhaps more alarming is the total loss of vision caused by temporary ‘smartphone blindness‘. This condition was documented in the New England Journal of Medicine and is caused by the combination of looking at a bright screen at night with one eye, whilst the other is buried in a pillow.
The eye looking at the screen becomes adjusted to the brightness, but when the other eye is opened it renders the light-adjusted eye temporarily blind while it tries to ‘catch up’. Scary stuff, so make sure you keep both eyes open.
8.Put your phone away
You know it’s a bad habit, so why not ditch the phone before bed completely?
Face it, that’s the best solution. Try to keep away from all screens for at least an hour before you go to sleep. Then when it’s bedtime, just lie down and relax.
No eye strain, no blurred vision. Just sweet dreams and a peaceful night’s sleep.
About the author
Wayne Green is an editor at OhMattress.com. He enjoys sharing tips to help visitors get to know all about sleep and mattresses.