The impact of Wi-Fi on sleep
In the last twenty years, a massive volume of incredible technology has entered our lives and homes, fast becoming staples of everyday living. Think smart phones, iPads, Bluetooth, and smart TVs, the list goes on. Towering over them all, Wi-Fi is possibly the greatest technology to have enhanced our lives in that time, especially at home.
However, while we tend to treat Wi-Fi like the TV, or a bedside light that is plugged in but not on, It's not quite the same!
An experiment was conducted showing that exposure to a 2-Hz pulse-modulated radio frequency and a 2-Hz pulsed magnetic field altered brain physiology.
"25 young healthy men were exposed at weekly intervals to three different conditions for 30 min before sleep. Cognitive tasks were also performed during exposure. The conditions were a 2-Hz pulse-modulated radio frequency field, a 2-Hz pulsed magnetic field, and sham.
Radio frequency exposure increased electroencephalogram power in the spindle frequency range. Furthermore, delta and theta activity (non-rapid eye movement sleep), and alpha and delta activity (rapid eye movement sleep) were affected following both exposure conditions.
No effect on sleep architecture and no clear impact of exposure on cognition was observed."
Read Study here
This exposure was at a very low level and still managed to affect theta and delta brainwave activity; delta being the very low frequency brainwaves active in deep sleep.
So how could this affect sleep quality?
Lets compare it to the blue light emitted by your phone or computer screen. Many people experience difficulty falling asleep after using their phone or computer right up until bedtime.
The reason for this is that the light coming from your phone or computer screen is being interpreted as "daylight" by your brain. So while you may switch off your device, your brain can’t immediately kick into sleep mode by producing the right amount of melatonin (melatonin being the hormone we all naturally produce that regulates our sleep-wake cycle), staying alert longer than necessary.
A similar thing can happen with Wi-Fi. The brain can mistake these electromagnetic signals as light signals, which can cause the suppression of melatonin production. It can also disrupt your sleep cycle and prevent you from going through your natural phases of sleep and therefore getting the restful sleep you need.
For those with insomnia, this could just add fuel to the fire.
Different strokes for different folks
Every body is different, literally. Some people are naturally more sensitive than others to electromagnetic radiation; a condition called electro hypersensitivity.
Electro hypersensitivity may occur due to excessive exposures to EMF (electromagnetic fields) or EMR (electromagnetic radiation) from power lines, mobile phone transmission towers, mobile and digital cordless phones, computers, fluorescent lights, even various electrical tools and equipment.
Just like some people can drink coffee before bedtime and still go to sleep without a problem, others suffer from insomnia if they consume caffeine in the afternoon or early evening.
It's also possible that there are people whose sleep is more sensitive to Wi-Fi than others.
You could make the assumption that those people would be the same people who have existing difficulty sleeping, a history of poor sleep, or who are light sleepers and easily disturbed by external factors.
A common theme is falling asleep easily after reading or watching a mobile phone or any device but then having a disrupted sleep - waking up after one or two hours and struggling to get back to sleep.
This could also apply to having Wi-Fi humming away in the background. Your brain will identify the Wi-Fi similar to how it recognises blue light and potentially trigger a waking moment.
At Tone Down Tech (TDT) we believe that turning your Wi-Fi off at night to give your brain and body the greatest chance of a full night’s rest, is a no brainer.
If you’re a parent, minimising the possibility of your children developing hyper-sensitivity, and avoiding Wi-Fi’s potential influence on their life-long sleep patterns from an early age, it makes sense to take risk out of the equation and turn your home’s Wi-Fi off while the family is sleeping.