What Smartphone Use Right Before Bed Does to a Child’s Brain

By: Adam Kyle, a sleep expert at

While you might not have had a smartphone, or even a cell phone, until you were in high school or college, the reality is that they are a part of our children’s reality. With that in mind, you should be aware of the issues that come along with using a smartphone for yourself and your child.

If you are purchasing a smartphone for your child, you should set some basic rules for them to follow. Talk to your child about good smartphone habits and make it so that the routines you enforce for them are also in place for yourself. Set a good example for your kid and improve your own rest!

How does smartphone use affect the human brain?

It Delays Melatonin Production

Smartphones produce light that is on the blue wavelength spectrum, which helps to improve a person’s mood while boosting attention and reaction times when they are using it. Unfortunately, this also means that it delays the production of melatonin, which makes you feel tired, for up to four hours after you spend time on it. This leads to a disrupted sleep schedule.

You can avoid the issues with blue light by turning on night mode at a set time every day. This puts an amber cast over the screen and reduces the amount of blue light significantly.

It Disrupts Their Sleep Schedule

Routines are really important when it comes to your sleep schedule. From putting in your mouthguard to brushing your teeth to taking a nice, hot bath, all of these things help you to relax and begin feeling tired. When you’re on your phone before bed, it sets all of that back to square one and makes it difficult for you to fall asleep in a timely manner. When you have to get up in the morning for school, you won’t be as well rested or as ready to take on your day as you would be if you had slept well.

This is especially an issue if your child is a pre-teen or teenager, as those age groups already tend to have issues with delayed sleep phases, and because their lives are much more crowded with activities than their younger siblings’ might be.

It Can Increase Feelings of Anxiety

In children who already have anxiety, constantly being on a smartphone can increase those feelings of anxiety. This is because they are more exposed to their fellow teenagers and adults, especially in the age of social media. It can increase the amount of time that teens are connected to their classmates and thus open up more avenues for bullying or isolation. Try to make sure that your child has a balance of real life and online social interactions in order to ensure that they are able to spend time away from their phone.

Experts recommend that you put your phone out of reach at night and put it on do not disturb. They also recommend using an old fashioned alarm clock to wake up to, to avoid using having to clear out your smartphone notifications first thing in the morning. Make sure that you set time aside that is smartphone free in order to take the best care of yourself and your child.

Adam Kyle is a sleep expert at A workaholic by nature, it wasn’t until his late twenties that he realized the importance of sleep for his health. At that point, he focused on learning everything he could about sleep. Now, Adam specializes in how his environment and his physical well-being affect his sleep. A San Francisco native, he finds the sounds of the city soothing and struggles to get to sleep in quieter environments.  


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