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Nighttime smart phone usage equals poor performance the next day

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Nighttime smart phone usage equals poor performance the next day

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Whilst mobile devices have undoubtedly been a tremendous boost, both to society and to productivity, the affect on the work/life balance of our employees is typically less positive.  Numerous studies have shown that mobile devices have primarily meant work related tasks have crept into our traditional leisure time, with little in the way of flexible working offered in return for being available more often.

Indeed, such has the level of connectivity to the office increased that devices have been developed to prompt employees to take a break.  A pair of studies have highlighted the negative impact smartphone usage has on our productivity, especially if done late at night.

“Smartphones are almost perfectly designed to disrupt sleep,” said Russell Johnson, MSU assistant professor of management who acknowledges keeping his smartphone at his bedside at night. “Because they keep us mentally engaged late into the evening, they make it hard to detach from work so we can relax and fall asleep.”

Not a good picture is it?  A huge proportion of the population own a smartphone, with a decent chunk of those even admitting to using them whilst making love, so the impact of usage on next day productivity could be pretty significant.  The National Sleep Foundation predict that around 60% of Americans fail to get enough sleep in an average night.

This latest study found that smart phone usage after 9pm both interrupted the users sleep, but also sapped their energy for work the following day.  What’s more, using a smart phone was found to have a larger impact than any other electronic device, including laptops, tablets and televisions.

A surprising culprit for this was the blue light emitted by most smart phones.  It emerged that this was particularly disruptive as blue lights were found to hinder melatonin, which is the chemical in the body that helps us to sleep.

“So it can be a double-edged sword,” Johnson said. “The nighttime use of smartphones appears to have both psychological and physiological effects on people’s ability to sleep and on sleep’s essential recovery functions.”

Suffice to say that many organisations are enjoying the prospect of having employees connected to the office at all times, but this research suggests that this hyper connectivity may be doing more harm than good.

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