Researchers distributed a survey about cell phone use, mental health, and stress to Swedish subjects between the ages of 20 and 24. One year later, 4,000 of them took the same questionnaire again.
The results: People who were glued to their phones—survey participants who sent or received at least 6 calls or texts per day—had twice the risk of reporting sleep disturbances compared to those who didn’t log high amounts of air time. Frequent cell phone users were also more likely to report symptoms of depression.
A few things could be going on here, explains lead author Sara Thomée, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. “High mobile phone use might reflect a hectic lifestyle in general, with little time for sleep and recovery,” she says.
Being available at all hours not only disturbs sleep because of calls and text messages, but it also adds a stressful additional sense of demand, explains Thomée. “You can also feel guilty because of unreturned messages and phone calls.”
Bringing back the landline phone may not be a feasible option, but there are things you can do to score some silence. Turn your phone on airplane mode when you’re sleeping. You can still use the alarm this way, but you’ll avoid calls and texts. And it goes both ways: Don’t expect your friends to be available at all times, either, she advises.