Turn Off the Smartphone, Get to Sleep, and Be More Productive


In a soon to be published study in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Michigan State University researchers found that "[u]sing a smartphone to cram in more work at night results in less work the next day." While this is not altogether surprising, some of their findings were. For example, it makes sense that smart phones inhibit sleep because they keep people mentally engaged late at night; however, smart phones also "emit 'blue light'" which is "known to hinder melatonin, a chemical in the body that promotes sleep" and so are physiologically (as well as psychologically) disruptive to sleep. Another surprising finding was that "smartphones had a larger negative effect than watching television and using laptop and tablet computers."Regardless of the precise reasons why, using a smartphone late into the night is likely to disrupt sleep and reduce your productivity the next day. On some nights, sleep disruptions will be unavoidable, but on other nights it might be more productive overall to turn off the smartphone and get a good night's rest. As Management Professor Russell Johnson, lead author of the upcoming study put it,

There may be times in which putting off work until the next day would have disastrous consequences and using your smartphone is well worth the negative effects on less important tasks the next day … But on many other nights, more sleep may be your best bet.

The bottom line is that persons who use their cell phones late into the evening will not perform as well the next day. This could have important consequences not only for mental acuity on the job but also for workplace safety. So unless it is absolutely necessary to burn the midnight oil, it is probably a good idea to turn off the smart phone when it is time to turn in.


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