Home Health & Wellness 50 Million Brits Sleep with Phones, But Half Never Clean It, Posing a Bacteria Transfer Risk

50 Million Brits Sleep with Phones, But Half Never Clean It, Posing a Bacteria Transfer Risk

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Pseudomonas aeruginosa is commonly found in cockroaches and their faecal droppings. This bacterial pathogen can be particularly bad for people with a compromised immune system. It can also be a common cause of skin irritation, which can lead to significant sleep disruptions, especially if you choose to sleep with your phone. 

50 Million Brits sleep with phones, but half never clean it, posing a bacteria transfer risk

Are you one of the 50 million Brits who sleep in their bedrooms with their phones? A YouGov study uncovered that 74% of people take their phone to the bedroom at night, unable to part with it. 

MattressNextDay conducted a poll revealing phone hygiene habits: 51% admitted to never using antibacterial products, while an additional 10% cleaned their phones only once a year.

Martin Seeley, CEO and sleep expert at MattressNextDay, explains: “Sleeping with your mobile phone impacts your sleep due to the blue light emitted tricking your brain into thinking it is time to wake. This then affects your circadian rhythm and releases cortisol, which keeps you awake and alert.”

“But, our study has found that you could also unknowingly be taking other things to bed with you, such as faecal pathogens that can impact your health.”

Sleep expert warns: phone-in-bed could be causing spots

Martin Seeley explains that the bacteria on your phone could be causing breakouts, stating: “While this bacteria could transfer to your pillowcase – if you place your phone under your pillow – as well as your bedding, it could also cause damage to your skin. The more bacteria on your phone, the more likely it is to transfer to your skin when holding it to your face. That bacteria can cause spots and clogged pores. This can be even more evident if you then sleep on a pillowcase that has bacteria buildup due to your phone.”

That’s why, if you sleep with your phone under your pillow, you should wash your pillowcase twice a week. This ensures bacteria do not build up and can be passed on to your skin, especially if you do not regularly clean your phone. 

70% of smartwatch owners confess to never cleaning them

As of last year, global smartwatch ownership reached 219 million people, exceeding the population of the UK by over three times. Many smartwatches now come with sleep trackers, making them a popular device to wear to bed, but did you know that in MattressNextDay’s recent poll, a staggering 70% of people said they had never cleaned their watch with antibacterial products, and only 10% said they cleaned their smartwatch once a month.

Further investigation by MattressNextDay revealed traces of Pseudomonas aeruginosa on smartwatches, a bacteria commonly found in cockroach droppings. This discovery emphasises the importance of cleaning smartwatches, particularly before bedtime. During an average workout, the wristband can accumulate sweat, which, if not addressed, can persist throughout the day.

Simply showering with a smartwatch is not sufficient for proper cleaning

You might think that simply showering with your smartwatch is enough to clean it. But without properly cleaning it and allowing the water to gather, that could cause more damage than good. Bacteria need a moist surface area to thrive, so if you put your hand under the shower and then leave it to dry, that moisture can rub against your wrist, causing skin irritations and bacteria buildup. 

Before bed, you can use a microfiber cloth to avoid sweat buildup on your smartwatch and, according to Apple, you can use a 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe or antibacterial wipe to properly remove the dirt. 

4 Reasons why you should never sleep with your tech 

MattressNextDay’s study identified that harmful bacteria could be living on your wearable tech, which could spread the germs to your bed and leave you sleeping with bacteria. But it can also have wide-ranging impacts on your health. There are many other reasons to avoid sleeping with your smart tech, and they have revealed four more.

  1. Your sleep cycle will be disrupted in as little as 30 minutes 

Your sleep cycle is regulated by your circadian rhythm, which is, essentially, a 24-hour internal body clock that tells you when to wake, and when to sleep. This is governed by hormones and daylight. So, if your brain is exposed to bright blue light from your phone, it will think it is time to wake up and start producing cortisol. 

Studies have found that exposure to phones just 30 minutes before bed correlates with daytime sleepiness, sleep disturbances, increased sleep latency (which is the time it takes you to fall asleep) and poor overall sleep quality. So, to avoid this, we suggest placing your phone in a drawer two hours before bedtime, as your circadian rhythm could be disrupted in as little as two days. 

  1. Phones fragment sleep quality 

There’s no denying that phones negatively affect sleep quality. If you are asleep and you get a notification on your phone, chances are you are going to check it. They are designed to make us want to respond. But if that happens during your sleep cycle, you are likely going to experience sleep inertia (which is that groggy feeling you sometimes get when you wake up in the morning). 

Just one disruption to one of your sleep cycles can completely throw off the rest of your night and day. 

  1. They can pose a fire risk 

While rare, 24% of mobile phone fires are caused by improper charging or charging with the wrong charger. So, if you sleep with your phone in your bed or under your pillow while charging, it can be incredibly dangerous. 

If you do need to keep your phone in your bedroom – as an alarm, for instance – place it across the room from you and charge it there. This not only keeps you that little bit safer but also encourages you to get out of bed as you have to move to the other side of the room to turn it off, meaning you are less likely to snooze your alarm and feel the groggy effects from falling asleep and waking every 10 minutes. 

  1. They can carry bacteria  

Our wearable technology, such as smartwatches and smartphones, can carry Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can be found in cockroach droppings. This could spread to your bedding and transfer to other areas of your home. This could also cause skin irritations and, in the worst cases, infections in the lungs. 

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