For the average office worker, cramming in more work at night using a smartphone is a good way to get more things done and have fewer work assignments the next day. However, in a new research co-authored by a Michigan State University business scholar, this habit might not be as beneficial as we think.

In studies surveying a broad spectrum of US workers, Russell Johnson and colleagues discovered that those people who monitor their smartphones for business purposes after 9PM tend to feel more tired and less engaged the next day at the office.

Johnson claims “Smartphones are almost perfectly designed to disrupt sleep. Because they keep us mentally engaged late into the evening, they make it hard to detach from work so we can relax and fall asleep.”

The study shows that night-time smartphone usage for work cuts into sleep and tends to sap workers’ energy for the office the next day. It also seems smartphones had a larger negative effect compared to watching television and using laptop and tablet computers because the “blue light” emitted by smartphones hinders melatonin production. Melatonin is a chemical in the body which promotes sleep.

This is especially alarming since more than half of U.S. adults own a smartphone and many users consider this device as one of the most important tools which helped increase their productivity and knowledge-based work. In spite of this, only 60 percent of Americans don’t enjoy enough sleep on most nights and using a smartphone for work is the culprit.

“So it can be a double-edged sword,” Johnson said. “The night-time use of smartphones appears to have both psychological and physiological effects on people’s ability to sleep and on sleep’s essential recovery functions.”

The solution is quite simple: turn off your smartphones at 9PM if you’re not expecting any important phone calls. It might not be the practical solution you’re looking for in today’s business world but clicking that off switch could be the key to you getting a good night’s sleep.


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