In an interview on UK television, US President Donald Trump has admitted he sometimes sends off his infamous tweets while in bed.
“Well, perhaps sometimes in bed, perhaps sometimes at breakfast or lunch or whatever, but generally speaking during the early morning, or during the evening,” Trump said in a sit-down interview with Piers Morgan, his first with an international broadcaster since becoming president. “I can do whatever, but I am very busy during the day, very long hours. I am busy.”
But what is the effect of using your phone in bed to answer emails, check Facebook, or, you know, nearly start a nuclear war? Unsurprisingly, it’s not positive.
Over thousands of years, the human brain has learnt to sleep when the sun goes down, and to return to alertness during the day.
“Our eye detects the fading light, the sun going down, and that information is sent to our brain and we start to produce melatonin,” explains sleep researcher Dr Carmel Harrington.
“When the sun comes up, and you can see it through your eyelids, that is the sign for the body to stop producing the hormone, and we wake up.”
Our use of hand-held technology means we are exposed to strong light closer to bedtime than ever before.
“Over the last 10 years, [the traditional sleep] system has gone out the window, because our eyes cannot detect the difference between the bright light of an iPad screen and the bright light of the sun, so our body isn’t going to start producing melatonin,” Dr Harrington says.
The consequence is that a person will struggle with falling sleep, and also maintaining sleep throughout the night (at which point many of us turn to the bright lights of our phones on our bedside tables, making the problem worse).
A solution offered by Dr Harrington is to turn off all devices an hour before bed. And, if you get up in the middle of the night, make sure to do so without checking your phone, or turning on too many unnecessary lights.
While we are sledging Mr Trump’s sleeping habits: did you know the man only sleeps four to five hours a night?
In a Fox News interview last year, the President said he worked “right up ’til 12 o’clock, one in the morning” before waking up at 5am.
For a small percentage of people, such a sleep schedule does not have an adverse effect on their health and wellbeing.
“About two per cent of the population have a short sleep gene, and they only need about five hours sleep,” Dr Harrington says.
However, she says it is unlikely Mr Trump falls into this category, as he displays many of the signs of sleep deprivation.
“Anger, impulsivity, obesity. All those things are hallmarks of people who do not get enough sleep.”