Nighttime Phone Usage

Written by Dr. Andrew Doan & Brooke Strickland on .

Do you check your cell phone after you’ve gone to bed? If so, you’re not alone. A new poll in the United Kingdom found that 45% of young people, ages 11 to 18 check their phone at night and one in 10 of them check it at least 10 times a night.  About 94% of those were on social media, 75% of them were listening to music, and 57% were watching films. About 42% of them keep their phone next to their bed all night. The survey went even further to investigate how mobile use at night is affecting their daytime activities and the results were eye-opening. About 25% of them say they feel tired during the day because of their cell phone overuse at night and 68% say that it affects how they do in school. (1) 

The issue with nighttime phone usage is sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation will result in mood disorders and may develop into mental illness. Research has shown that sleep dysregulation may induce depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and even psychotic breakdowns. Getting enough sleep, typically 8-9 hours a night, is essential to mental health.

Have you noticed that either you or your teenager is checking their phone at night? If so, try to set some boundaries on how you/they are using the phone. Set a time every night when phone use is last allowed. Encourage yourself and your teenager to turn off notifications, turn it on airplane mode, or mute settings. This is a good step to trying to reduce the habit of checking the device continually through the night. There are also apps that will help you keep track of the amount of screen time being used and installing them could be a huge help.

In addition to cutting back phone use, it’s also great to detox from digital devices altogether every once in a while. These detox require you to turn off the phone and put it away entirely. Take a break for a day or longer and use the time to refresh yourself. Switch up the habit by reading a book, getting outside to enjoy walks or hikes, or take a little mini-vacation that requires you to leave your phone at home. 

Excessive social media and phone use can negatively affect the emotional and physical wellbeing of people, youth and adult alike. We often feel like if we don’t check our phones continually that we’ll miss out on something or that we won’t be the first ones to be “in the know.” But what are we really missing? Are there things on your Facebook page that are more important than real human interaction? Probably not. It’s important to train your brain to remember to live in the reality, not passively behind a screen. 

Technology is a wonderful tool, so using it as that rather than letting it take control over us, is healthy. If you’re struggling with how to set boundaries for you or your children’s technology use, visit for more information. 


  1. Sellgren, Katherine. “Teenagers ‘checking mobile phones in night’.” BBC News. October 6, 2016. Accessed online October 20, 2016.