Preadolescent phone usage during day not associated with decreased sleep, study finds


Electromagnetic fields emitted by cellular phones during the day do not cause sleep disturbances in preadolescent children, however nighttime phone usage may effect sleep, according to a new study published in Environmental Research.

The study was conducted by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGLobal) and led by ISGlobal researcher, Mònica Guxens, MD, MPH, PhD. The study observed more than 1,500 preadolescent children between the ages of nine and 12-years-old. Researched estimated the participant’s exposure levels to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) from indirect sources like Wi-Fi, television, and radio antennas and nearby cellphone tours, as well as direct sources like mobiles phones, tablets, and internet-connected laptops.

A survey was used to determine the participants’ cellphone use and sleep quality. In addition, researchers conducted a study on 300 preadolescents who were asked to provide statistics on their mobile phone use past 7 p.m. Over the course of seven days, participants’ sleep was measured through a wrist accelerometer and sleep diaries.

Overall, the study found no correlation between levels of daytime phone use and sleep disturbances. Results suggested that preadolescents sleep an average of seven and a half hours each night after spending nearly 50 minutes per day looking at their phone and two and a half minutes making phone calls. The main contributor to the participants’ daytime whole-brain RF-EMF dose were phone calls.

According to the smaller study, only 20 percent of the participants made phone calls at night. Yet, compared to those who made no evening calls, those with high RF-EMF doses, on average, lost 12 minutes of sleep.

These results may suggest a correlation between nighttime RF-EMF exposure and sleep disturbances. However, several variables from the phone calls could have contributed to reduced sleep, making it difficult to determine causation.