Take a Hard Look at Your Most Frequent Bed Partner

No, we’re not talking about the babe you met at the gym last month or your stable, comfy life partner (human or dog). The partner in question—while often deemed “smart”—is neither nurturing nor cuddly.

We’re talking about your smartphone: that addictive piece of your life that goes to bed with you each night and begs for your constant attention. On your bedside table, in between you and your [real] partner, and [let’s hope not] in your hand as you doze, that phone is getting mighty close.

Far be it for us to judge, but we think you should know:

Countless studies have been published revealing the damaging consequences of screen time before bed. Scrolling through news feeds, binge watching, and scouring for a date this weekend may seem like the perfect way to unwind after a long day. But these activities are not only robbing you of precious time for sleep, but also affecting the quality of your sleep.

How can this be? As a recent press release from Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital explains, the artificial light from our devices tricks out circadian rhythms (those things are responsible for our bodies’ sleep patterns, and they respond to light. That’s why we wake up when the sun comes out and go to sleep when it’s dark).

When we stare at screens, we upset this pattern. Our bodies interpret the artificial light as daylight, making it harder to fall asleep and harder to sleep soundly. By the time morning’s light comes through the bedroom window and we reach for our smartphones again, we are sleep-deprived, lacking in concentration, and generally not on our games.

It’s always hard to end a potentially unhealthy relationship in the face of conflict. Your smartphone really wants your attention. Your body really needs sleep. Maybe the two of you can work out a healthy compromise.