This article was written for those of you out there who, despite trying ?everything? to help improve your sleep, still find yourself having significant problems with insomnia (aka ‘sucky sleep?). I’m here to give you something else to try, something you have likely not tried before, and that I have had quite a bit of success with my patients with.
I run into people all the time who have sucky sleep patterns. Poor health and bad sleep spend a lot of time together, apparently. If you don’t know why sleep is necessary and important, please consult your nearby Google Machine or the past 180D articles on the topic. For this article, I’m talking to you if your time in bed looks like any of these:
- ”Shallow? sleep interrupted by many small, short awakenings through the night.
- Not falling asleep at all until the wee hours of the morning, only then finally falling asleep due to sheer exhaustion.
- A common feature of both scenarios above involves never feeling well rested, despite being in bed for 8 hours or more.
Put simply, this fix involves cleaning up your bedroom area at night of excessive radiofrequency radiation (RFR) sources, as emitted by cell/smart phones and wireless internet toys. One little part involves other electromagnetic frequency (EMF) sources around your bed, not technically RFR, but related.
I’m not going to go into some big rant about how research is demonstrating that RFR causes health issues at what are considered ?normal? exposure levels (I counted 135 studies in that linked doc, with 10 specific mentions of sleep disturbance). It is, and more research is coming out every day. A great summary of the concerns about RFR, including some pertinent research, has been done by the Environmental Working Group. At least read that one to get a handle on what you aren’t being told about your gadgets by the alphabet-soup agencies in charge of the stuff.
Maybe you don’t want to think about the possibility that your laptop or tablet is basically microwaving your reproductive organs, because you like your electronic toys, and damn anyone who tries to take them away from you! That’s fine, relax. For some people though, a good night’s sleep might be worth looking into some small changes.
Now we are going to go into how to facilitate this fix. It’s fairly simple, free, and only requires a bit of your time. It’s something that you try for 3 nights in a row and observe whether it works for you or not. If it doesn’t help, then continue looking elsewhere for the answer (it’s not my only trick in the sleep-trick-bag, either).
The gist is that we want to eliminate or maximize the distance between you and sources of RFR while you are in bed trying to sleep. An important thing to know is the other common terms we use for RFR-emitting devices:? Wi-Fi, wireless, cellular, cordless, and DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications).
For those of you who are impatient and tend towards TL;DR, here’s the minimalist version of what to do before you hit the sack:
- If you sleep with your cell/smart phone in your room, either turn it on Airplane Mode while you sleep (that way?itstops transmitting RFR and you can still use it as an alarm), or if you must leave it on, move it as far away from your sleeping area as you are willing (just turn up the ringer volume if you need to).
- If there is anything plugged in to the wall (including alarm clocks and cell/smart phone charger) within 6 feet of your head’this includes the entire cord and the item itself?move it so it is not within a 6 foot radius of your head while you are laying in bed.
Those two things above are the biggest bang-for-the-buck items. For those of you who either want to go whole hog with this the first time, or notice that the above helped your sleep, the following can help even more:
- Disable the RFR signals coming out of your modem/router, cordless phone, and anything else wireless-capable in your bedroom (or whole house, if you are so inclined). If you can get a Wi-Fi signal on your computer or use the cordless phone in your bedroom, then this could be affecting you. Not sure how to do this or think you can’t?? Read on, I’ll tell you where to look. I try to give multiple options so that you can find something that will work for you (or your stubborn spouse, roommate, whatever).
The following are expansions on the above topics.
Cellular/smart phone. Many people (try to) sleep with their phone sitting on their nightstand, within a couple feet of their head. Your phone is constantly ?pinging? base stations to check in, so just because you aren’t getting any calls/texts/emails doesn’t mean it isn’t working all night. I realize that many people don’t have land lines any more and feel the need to leave their phone on 24/7/365. Those folks should use option #2.
- Turn your phone to ?Airplane Mode?. This stops all sending/receiving/RFR capabilities of your phone (this means your phone WILL NOT ring if someone calls you, so be aware). This setting allows you to continue using your phone as an alarm on your nightstand if necessary, while eliminating the RFR issue. Simply turning your phone ?OFF? does not necessarily mean it stops sending/receiving. Seriously.
- If you are not comfortable with turning your phone to Airplane Mode, then the next best option is to move it as far away from your bed (particularly your head) as possible while you are sleeping. A minimum distance would be 6 feet, and more is definitely better. Simply turn up the ringer volume accordingly so you would be able to hear a call or alarm. This is not as beneficial as option #1.
Wireless modem/router. The ?wireless? signal needs to be turned off. This can be done in several ways. If you can get a Wi-Fi signal to use laptops/tablets/whatever in your bedroom, then this could be affecting your sleep.
- The simplest way is to unplug the modem or router power cord while you are sleeping, and plug it back in when you wake up (or when you need to use the computer again).
- You could turn off the wireless function of the modem through your computer. This allows your modem to continue sending/receiving data through the hard line. To do this, google the make/model of your modem along with the words ‘turn wireless off?. That should give you instructions. I’ve never owned a router, and I’m no computer geek, so you’re on your own with that one. The unplug solution is guaranteed though! Be aware that some modems will turn the wireless function back on again when they auto-download updates. ?Again, the unplug solution stops that problem from occurring.
- If you know or suspect someone nearby has a modem/router close to where you sleep (on the other side of an apartment wall, for example), your only option is distance. Moving your bed or sleeping with your head at the other end of the bed are some ideas you could try.
Cordless (DECT) landline phones:
- The main base station of a cordless (DECT) phone is the major source of RFR’similar to a Wi-Fi modem or router?and that it constantly emits a high amount of EMF in a circular ?cloud? around it. For the vast majority of cordless phones, the only solution is to unplug the main base station at night. The ?extra? phone handsets and their bases are not an issue if the main base is unplugged.
Believe it or not, I won’t be losing any sleep over it. An interesting anecdote to wrap up?a patient of mine recently did a sleep study. He was told by the person doing the sleep study for him that it was obvious in the readings if there were any electronic items nearby the subject. That blew my mind.
Great article Garrett- thanks. In your experience, would it be better that everything plugged in, even night-lights, are kept away from you head? Or is it primarily those devices that give off RFR/EMR?
The only way to know is with a meter. I unplug everything around my head and just plug it in somewhere else in the room. The RFR/EMR items are a much higher priority. However, alarm clocks give off notoriously high EMR/EMF transmissions.
I’ve noticed recently that less sleep = less anxiety for me. If I sleep more than 8 hours a night, my anxiety and rumination is significantly worse. If I sleep around 6-7 hours, I feel relaxed and more focused on whats in front of me vs the hypothetical drama stories I create in my head. Do you have an insight into this? I did some research and many other people experience this as well.
This is good information.
In my state, the electric companies are installing so-called “smart meters” that transmit usage information to the power companies. The RFR signals coming from this are going to be disastrous for health. Some appliances even come with these signals now, allowing power companies to see what appliances you use at what times! I’ve seen a few signal cancelling things online but they look fake. Any suggestions for counteracting forced exposure?
Here’s what I would do and have done.
Don’t buy “smart” appliances. If you can’t find a new appliance without the “smart” feature, then buy used.
We don’t have the true smart meters where I live, but we have a less-bad version called an AMR meter, which sends a really strong, really short burst every 30 seconds (I’ve measured it, the spike was the highest I’d recorded on anything in or around my house, including the modem and cordless phone). That meter was 10-15 feet from where my 2-year-old sleeps on my neighbor’s house. My house doesn’t have one yet, and I sent the electric company a certified letter stating that I did not want one on my house and would not consent to it. I talked with my neighbor about my concerns and she was fine with me covering it with 2 layers of aluminum foil on the side facing my house, which reduced the strength of the transmission to almost nothing. My boy started sleeping much better immediately. Shielding is your best bet. You can find a lot more info of this type on http://www.ElectricSense.com .
Hope that helps.
Timely article for me. Even though my quality of sleep has improved using Matt’s Eat for Heat recommendations, I’m stilll unable to get a full 8 hrs sleep (I can get a pretty deep 6 hrs). I know part of the problem is that I need my TV on to fall asleep (I set a timer on the TV). However, once in a while I will wake up in the middle of the night and put the TV on (set timer again) to fall deeper into sleep. Does anyone else have a similar problem?
I can’t fall asleep without the TV on either. I also set the timer. I have slept that way for years, long before the waking up issues started.
My husband has had a real struggle sleeping days, we have tried the usual cool, dark room advice but he can rarely sleep more than 6 hours. Not much electronic in the room, and he sleeps 10+ hours when he gets to sleep at night. It has contributed to him gaining weight, having higher blood sugar and catching every virus that passes(at least there is a correlation, can’t prove cause) What do you suggest?
I’m not sure I’m understanding- are you saying he rarely sleeps more than 6 hours, and that contributes to his weight gain, high blood sugar and susceptibility to illness? Or that he sleeps 10+ hours per night, and that is what is behind it?
Typically, it’d be the former. Good, deep, high quality sleep is associated with a higher metabolic rate (discussed some here: http://180degreehealth.com/2012/09/stalling-the-aging-metabolism ).
The only reason I can imagine someone getting lots of sleep and seeing those attendant health problems would be the effects of ending the ‘catecholamine honeymoon’ http://180degreehealth.com/2010/06/the-catecholamine-honeymoon. Basically, if you’re strung out on stress hormones and that’s keeping your weight from rising and immune system from bottoming out, when you break that spell (with things like carbs or calories or sleep), your adrenals go on vacation, and the symptoms they were covering up become exposed. It’d be like coming off of speed or something.
Yes, when he must sleep in the daytime, due to his work, he can’t stay asleep more than 6 hours and this makes these factors worse. When he is able to sleep at night on the weekend, he sleeps a huge amount. While he has been informed he will be moving to first shift for four months starting December1, I am looking for a “cheat” to help him sleep more/better until then. We have tried a darker room, a cooler room, benedryl and nothing really has worked. To me, he looks like he has aged ten years in the time he has been on third shift.
Try again, please…I’ve been major sleep deprived for over a year & half and i don’t even OWN a cell phone (or any other techno-gizmos), have not allowed even a clock in my room, no t.v. in the house for 30 years.
How many calories do you eat? Have you ever counted? My chronic, maddening insomnia went away after I intentionally increased my caloric intake (from roughly 1,000-1,800 to about 2,200-3,000).
You’re spot on about RFR and EMF issue with sleep. I have been trying to tell people about this for years and everyone thinks I am nuts. I sleep so much better when I am away from those sources. Unfortunately, at my apartment, even though I turn all of my stuff off, I am inundated with at least 8 signals from the surrounded apartment neighbors. it’s awful. I wish I could just camp out in the woods every night!!
If you want to contact me directly, there are options that you can implement in your situation.
I live in NYC so there is absolutely no point in even trying this stuff. I actually do sleep with my phone across the room, but it doesn’t matter because I’m pretty sure my next door neighbor keeps her phone near her bed, which is right on the other side of the wall from my head. Moving my bed would help not at all because my neighbor on the other side has a wireless router right near the wall, so I imagine that would actually be worse. I have at least 10 wireless signals going all the time when I check on my computer..
What are we all going to do when appliances send out these signals all the time, as Carrie mentions above? Short of moving to a remote cabin, there are no options, unless someone comes up with a type of wall that blocks all signals. I have to decide not to stress about it because that would make it worse.
Despite all of this, a lot of people still sleep well here. I’ve been sleeping pretty well myself lately. I started taking chlorella recently and noticed my sleep got a LOT better. Also, I worked through what had been some stressful stuff, and i know that made a huge difference. I have a feeling that a healthy body can withstand this stuff a lot better.
That is absolutely true. The healthier a body is, the more resilient it is to everything. The sicker someone is, the more this stuff affects them.
Also, some people are simply more sensitive than others. I fall in the sensitive camp.
I guess on the positive side, we don’t have smart meters here yet. I’ll be more concerned if we get smart meters and those appliances that send out the really strong signals. From what I understand, those things affect people much more than cell phones and wifi do.
There are people doing EMF shielding on their walls. Maybe that is an option you can explore.
A healthier body can definitely withstand stresses against it better than an unhealthy body. But even a healthy body can be worn down over time by relentless background stress.
I chose the “remote home” option. We built on 5 wooded acres where you couldn’t even get a cell phone signal. They put up a tower about 3 miles away, so now there is a cell signal here. That’s my worst “microwave” issue.
Wireless on the router is always off, and all computers are hard-wired with cat-5 cable. We also went back to corded land line phones, and we don’t own a microwave oven. Anyone who is sensitive can feel a huge change when they come to our place if they live in the city.
We have decently high-speed DSL and all the “normal” conveniences. The main downside is driving time to get places, but with smart shopping in bulk, we can get by with a weekly trip to the grocery store, and a monthly trip to Costco.
Obviously most people won’t go this route, but for those who are willing and able, it is a fantastic choice.
By the way, even with all this natural serenity, my sleep still got messed up when I was doing excessive Intermittent Fasting. We have to look at all the facets of the picture.
If you have an Android phone/tablet, download the WiFi Analyzer app and you can see the strength of all WiFi signals in your vicinity.
I convinced my parents to hook my computer up direct to the ethernet cable and to move the wireless router out of my room. For years it’s been like a foot away from my computer running the whole time and me using WiFi too.
People do think you’re nuts, but I’m getting over that more lately the more I’m validating my own health issues.
Not only EMFs, but the blue light emitted by computers/phones/any electric lights at night keeps the pineal gland from producing melatonin.
We’re in serious need of an overhaul with all this new technology. Of course people are probably going to have see all the health problems this stuff is creating before the idea of fixing these problems goes mainstream. There isn’t going to be a lot of funding for research into making devices more biologically friendly until it’s accepted that they’re actually harmful, and you can probably bet that it’ll take even longer after that. Some people are already aware that they’re harmful, just like people are aware that mercury amalgams are harmful, but propaganda and ‘professional opinion’ keep all that stuff under wraps for as long as possible.
Fortunately there’s research on blue light and melatonin and that’s a much easier problem to fix than EMFs while still taking advantage of the technology. lowbluelights.com, the free f.lux computer program, and amber tinted safety glasses (e.g. from Uvex) all provide a lot of options for using modern technology without interfering with circadian rhythm.
There is way too much money involved, I highly doubt anyone will acknowledge harm whether it exists or not. I think it’s more likely that innovative companies will build fixes for sensitive people, which I would actually be happy enough with as long as it’s not uber-expensive.
Look at the massive denial of harm caused by many pharmaceutical drugs. People experiencing issues often have no clue where it’s coming from, so I’m not sure they would be intuitive enough to figure out EMF problems. And the companies making money off them are sure not admitting it.
I use a CPAP and the tubes aren’t long enough to place the machine 6ft from your head. Even if they were, they’d need a button for turning on/off closer or it’d just be plain annoying to use. I guess I’m screwed.
On the bright side, there are much simpler and more effective hacks than these. In addition to the above hacks and the tradition no caffeine, naps after 3pm, no monitors at night, etc, strictly follow the typical Circadian rhythm patterns. Sleep for 8hrs starting at 2am is not the same as starting at 10pm. Look up the chart and follow it closely. That doesn’t just mean time to sleep but also when to eat and exercise. It’s amazing how quickly and significantly these changes can affect your sleep habits!
I already turn off my phone or at least put it in airplane mode, but I haven’t though of unplugging things that I don’t need during the night. Thanks for the idea! What about charging a (turned off) phone during the night?
Charge it in airplane mode.
As a naturopathic physician myself, I fully agree with Dr. Smith’s helpful insights.
I’ve even had my patients pay to have their homes ‘swept’ to find out all sources of EMF and radiation (I’m in the Washington, DC area). I’ve worked with many patients that tell me their bedrooms have turned into ‘grand central station’ with signals beaming back and forth from new cell phone towers put up in their neighborhood. Many did not have a cell phone or even a computer in their home, but their bedrooms were a hotbed of signals beamed to neighbors. Each moved to sleep in a different room, did help. Ultimately, they moved from their homes. Problem solved, all sleep great now! No medication, herbs, supplements or homeopathics needed.
I’d definitely suggest looking into EMF and radiation if sleep was good and all of a sudden it’s not (while ruling out any obvious reasons why sleep started to ‘suck’.)
I eat a tablespoon of gelatine at night as Jelly. That definitely helps me sleep.
I know a professor of RF communications who refuses to get a mobile phone – do you think he might know something?
Excellent article. The electrical outlet is at the base of my bed (small room, can’t put bed elsewhere) so I switch off the power supply at the outlet before I go to sleep.
We have DSL and even through we do not use wireless, I make it a point to switch it off every time a computer is booted up (it tends to be the default). This also helps keep your own data secure. Before I switch wireless off, I do notice that we have a few strong signals in our home which I am not happy about but short of shielding the unit, there is nothing I can do about it.
Trying to explain to people that their emotional stress is made worse by wireless transmitters is a tough sell ? modern people don’t like the idea that they have to revert to an older technology.
During the one week that we had a wireless modem, we felt overloaded, as if our nerves were overcharged. We got it switched off, and now we have everything on ethernet cable, and our computer mouse is wired only.
To smooth the house energy from ambient wireless fields from neighbors, we grid each room with orgonite. Although orgonite doesn’t lessen the intensity of the RF fields, it seems to smooth it out, so that it feels less rough and chaotic. Whether you regard this shift as a real phenomena that is actually working at a subtle energetic level, or whether you believe it’s only the placebo effect, it’s worth exploring.
I just had my cell phone stolen Garrett, and am thinking about not replacing it. Do you give out trophies or blue ribbons for this kind of thing? Also, just enjoyed rarely sleeping indoors over the last 7 weeks. It makes a huge difference, most notably in feeling outrageously drowsy about 5 hours earlier than I would indoors. I have always had trouble winding down at night. Passing out in minutes at 7:30 is only something I’ve been able to do outdoors.
Interesting, I have noticed over the years that if I was suffering from SAD, just going outside would take the edge off it considerably, even if it was raining and overcast (so no sun helping me out). I have given thought to putting a space blanket with the reflective side out on my bed. Maybe I will put them up next to my bed, like a tapestry, and see if I don’t feel better.
This is interesting stuff (to me anyway). Do you have any information about which frequencies are the most (and least) disruptive? Most of the devices you mention operate in the Mhz and Ghz ranges (wifi, cell phones, cordless phones) but what about the 60Hz mains frequency? Apparently some people report problems from living near electrical transmission lines.
I’ve also heard speculation that there is some sort of natural or master frequency that the earth vibrates at. Nikola Tesla theorized that the resonant frequency of the earth was 8Hz. The fundamental Schumann resonance is around 7.8Hz. Delta waves range from 0 to 4Hz. Do you know if these very low frequencies are beneficial for the body in general or sleep in particular?
The wires in the wall that carry the 50 or 60 Hz AC frequency (depending on the country) are an alternating current that alternates at a rate of 50 or 60 times a second. This is considered too fast to be noticed by the human eye, but some people speculate that our body picks it up. The wires in the wall that carry that current also give off emf, as a magnetic field is induced by a changing current in a wire (and vice versa). If you wish to avoid this, LED lighting with DC or direct current will stop this.
Transmission lines have a much greater voltage than the 240V (or 120 V) in the house, so the magnetic field is much stronger. The nearer you are to the source of the field, the stronger it is. This could be why people have more problems beings near transmission lines. I also speculate that the emf also interferes with the melatonin cycle to a much greater extent. (the pineal gland is not just affected by light, but also electromagnic fields).
Rotating magnets can also induce an electro-magnetic field, as I said above, so the earth can be considered one gigantic rotating magnet.
P.S. I am also looking into using LEDs to balance out the spectrum, so I get more red light components and other frequencies so that I can have light that resembles sun light as much as possible. These days, LED lighting is so cheap and can be powered by solar energy.
Has anybody else looked into this or know anything about this?
“The wires in the wall that carry the 50 or 60 Hz AC frequency (depending on the country) are an alternating current that alternates at a rate of 50 or 60 times a second. This is considered too fast to be noticed by the human eye..”
The wires in the wall that carry the 50 or 60 Hz AC frequency (depending on the country) are an alternating current that alternates at a rate of 50 or 60 times a second. IN A LIGHT BULB, this is considered too fast to be noticed by the human eye.
I thought this article was going to be about eating a bunch of sugar and junk food,pleasantly surprised.
I don’t use a cell phone or tablet at all and don’t have any electronic devices in my bedroom except for an old school alarm clock and lamp and I still have sleep problems, though better than the past 20 plus years.
Just saw the part about moving the alarm clock further away- will try, though I’ve gone through periods of time just using a battery operated alarm clock and still had insomnia.
This brings back memories of dear old Dr. Mercola. I never did wallpaper my bedroom with aluminum foil. But I did think about it. xD
Interesting – I do have my share of electronic devices with WiFi, and I do have trouble sleeping – but I have always had trouble sleeping, even for years and years before these electronics were even dreamed of – and in the summers I get away to the middle of nowhere, miles from anything, and I sleep just as badly up there. :-)
So is it cool if I just shutdown/unplug everything and then put my alarm clock on my airplane mode enabled phone?
I envy the ability of cats to apparently be able to sleep when and wherever they like, all day sometimes, yet they are usually up and ready to go when the sun come up. They seem to be immune to, if not able to thrive on electromagnetic fields – preferring to fall asleep on places such as the tv etc. I wonder if anyone knows anything that may be behind this?
Cats are magical creatures. End of story. :-)
This actually helped me to sleep a solid 7 or 8 hours non-stop. Something that I have not done for years and years. Thank you 180 and Dr. Smith!
Same Ron! I’ve tried this for a few nights and it actually made me sleep deeper and wake up an hour later! Before that, I had my phone right near my head, and a set of speakers to play white noise as I have tinnitus. I’ve put the iphone on airplane mode, and moved the speakers across the other side of the room. I can’t believe this actually helped.
I’m surprised nobody has mentioned earthing
It seems to protect against a lot of the damage described.
Garrett writes about Earthing in addition to some of the above information in our book Solving the Paleo Equation. He’s definitely an advocate of earthing, however, it has to be done and monitored correctly if you are using something like an earthing mat. I know Garrett had some big problems putting an earthing mat under his feet while working on a laptop. Since it grounded him all the electricity flowed into him and actually made his exposure worse not better, giving him headaches and sending his voltmeter into the stratosphere.
i found that my sleep problem got worse when i went back on gluten (sigh). i’m fifty and gluten makes me feel 60. i’m achy and i have worse blood sugar issues. i toss and turn and i have early waking. i’m off gluten again and sleeping good and feeling 45. (shrugs) wish it wasn’t so, but this is the umpteenth time i’ve tried going back on gluten, and its always the same, even with eating and drinking intuitively. wish it wasn’t so, but just thought i’d share.
Just received this today, love to hear your thoughts on this blog…
That’s a great example of someone trying to prove what they want to believe is right, is right. Like that popular two-sleep night article that he references that made the rounds a couple of years ago. It made people who couldn’t sleep through the night feel better about themselves. Meanwhile, children with an optimal metabolism were sleeping 12 hours a night solid, and the frigid elderly in South Florida were getting a wakeful 6. People can get by on less sleep. It will indeed skyrocket their adrenaline and give them somewhat of a high (until they eat of course, crash-o-rama). If they “oversleep” their adrenals will finally take a break and they will feel foggy-headed, lethargic, and semi-depressed. I like Frederic, but this is off the mark and lacks full comprehension of the subject.