Saturday, December 31, 2016

Impact of WiFi /cell phone on Sleep

Incidentally, I started tracking my sleep on my phone using a sleep app. Over the past two weeks, I noticed a pattern in my sleep. When my phone is on airplane mode, I sleep very well. In contrast, when my phone is kept, my sleep is very poor. The pattern was shocking, yet absolutely real. I did a literature search and realized there are established relationship between brain function and cell phone/Wi-Fi patterns due to the electromagnetic interference caused by Wi-Fi/cell phone signal.

In a large study of over 2300 children with average age of seven years[1], the prospective study measured the impact of electromagnetic field exposure from base stations from both geospatial model and from indoor sources (Wi-Fi/cell phones). Impact on sleep (sleep resistance, sleep anxiety, sleep disordered breathing) were evaluated. There is a significant association between the duration and electromagnetic frequencies emitted from base stations. Longer cell phone use was associated with lower sleep duration, increased frequency of night awaking and increased bedtime resistance.  In another cross-sectional survey study[2], adolescents were surveyed and associations between their cell phone usage and reported well-being and sleep quality were analyzed. Wireless headsets were associated with headaches, feeling depressed, and waking in the night. Several cordless phone frequencies were related to the sensation of ringing in the ears (tinnitus), feeling depressed and sleepiness at school. Being awaken at night by a cell phone was strongly related to tiredness at school. In a case report from Johansson et al[3], a patient with demyelinating syndrome is shown to have severe demyelinating symptoms (i.e. seizures, etc). The relief of her symptoms was incidentally noticed when the neighborhood hot spot was changed out.

The impact of having a cell phone turned on at night significantly interfered with my sleep was an accidental discovery, but clearly is a well-known phenomenon . Given the established benefits of good quality sleep on growth, memory, happiness, and overall health, this clear cause-and-effect of Wi-Fi/cell phone frequency on sleep is a huge health issue given though endemic use of cell phones.

In fact, some studies suggest non-thermal radio-frequency radiation from Wi-Fi and cell phones impacts growing tissues the most. In animals, electromagnetic exposure to electromagnetic frequency has been linked to delayed kidney development. In a study of plants evaluating the impact of electromagnetic radiation on growth, plants that were grown in a room with two routers had no growth compared to plants grown in a wireless-free/electromagnetic frequency-free environment[4].

 There is huge efforts to reduce certain environmental health exposure, for example, secondhand smoking. It appears that electromagnetic radiation exposure from cell phone/Wi-Fi would be at the same magnitude of potential health impact given these findings given the widespread prevalence of cell phone/Wi-Fi use. Large cohort studies in a more controlled environment are certainly justified and warranted to ensure that we are not doing ourselves more harm than good by seemingly harmless use of cell phones/Wifi. As for me, cell phone and all of my devices and my Wi-Fi router are getting unplugged during sleep. #TimeToUnplug

[1] Huss A, van Eijsden M, Guxens M, Beekhuizen J, van Strien R, Kromhout H, et al. Environmental Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields Exposure at Home, Mobile and Cordless Phone Use, and Sleep Problems in 7-Year-Old Children. PLoS One. 2015;10:e0139869.
[2] Redmayne M, Smith E, Abramson MJ. The relationship between adolescents' well-being and their wireless phone use: a cross-sectional study. Environ Health. 2013;12:90.
[3] Johansson O, Redmayne M. Exacerbation of demyelinating syndrome after exposure to wireless modem with public hotspot. Electromagn Biol Med. 2016;35:393-7.
[4] 10 Shocking Facts about the Health Dangers of Wi-Fi.

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