A new study found that the fear of being out of mobile phone contact — “nomophobia” — is extremely common among college students and is associated with poor sleep health.
Preliminary results show that 89% of a sample of college students had moderate or severe nomophobia. Greater nomophobia was significantly related to greater daytime sleepiness and more behaviors associated with poor sleep quality.
“We found that college students who experience more ‘nomophobia’ were also more likely to experience sleepiness and poorer sleep hygiene such as long naps and inconsistent bed and wake times,” said lead author Jennifer Peszka, PhD, professor of psychology at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas.
While Peszka anticipated that nomophobia would be common among the study participants, she was surprised by its high prevalence.
“Because our study suggests a connection between nomophobia and poorer sleep, it is interesting to consider what the implications will be if nomophobia severity continues to increase,” she said.
The study involved 327 university students with a mean age of 20 years. Participants completed several questionnaires, including the Nomophobia Questionnaire, the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, and the Sleep Hygiene Index.
Peszka also noted that one common recommendation for improving sleep habits is to limit phone use before and during bedtime. However, she said that for people who have nomophobia, this recommendation could exacerbate bedtime anxiety and disrupt sleep, rather than improve it.
“The recommendation to curtail bedtime phone use, which is meant to improve sleep and seems rather straightforward, might need adjustment or consideration for these individuals,” she said.
The research team included co-investigators David Mastin, PhD, and Bruce Moore, PhD, from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where the other co-authors are undergraduate student researchers: Shalonda Michelle, Benjamin T. Collins, Nataly Abu-Halimeh, Monnar Quattom, Maya Henderson, Madison Sanders, and Jeremiah Critton.
The research abstract was published recently in an online supplement of the journal Sleep and will be presented as a poster Aug. 28-30 during Virtual SLEEP 2020. SLEEP is the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.
The following tips are provided by the AASM to help students learn how to get enough sleep:
Go to bed early
Students should go to bed early enough to have the opportunity for a full night of sleep. Adults need about seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
Get out of bed
If you have trouble falling asleep, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.
Stay out of bed
Don’t study, read, watch TV or talk on the phone in bed. Only use your bed for sleep.
If you take a nap, then keep it brief. Nap for less than an hour and before 3 p.m.
Wake up on the weekend
It is best to go to bed and wake up at the same times on the weekend as you do during the schoolweek. If you missed out on a lot of sleep during the week, then you can try to catch up on the weekend. But sleeping in later on Saturdays and Sundays will make it very hard for you to wake up for classes on Monday morning.
Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and at night. It stays in your system for hours and can make it hard for you to fall asleep.
Adjust the lights
Dim the lights in the evening and at night so your body knows it will soon be time to sleep. Let in the sunlight in the morning to boost your alertness.
Take some time to “wind down” before going to bed. Get away from the computer, turn off the TV and the cell phone, and relax quietly for 15 to 30 minutes.
Eat a little
Never eat a large meal right before bedtime. Enjoy a healthy snack or light dessert so you don’t go to bed hungry.
Our Sleep Education Center, a patient education section of this website created by Alaska Sleep Clinic, provides information about various sleep disorders, the forms of treatment available, recent news on the topic of sleep, sleep studies that have been conducted and a listing of sleep facilities.
Those who believe they have a sleep disorder should consult with their primary care physician or one of our board-certified sleep specialists at ASC.
For a copy of the abstract, “Sleep, Sleepiness, and Sleep Hygiene Related to Nomophobia (No Mobile Phone Phobia),” or to arrange an interview with the study author or an AASM spokesperson, please contact AASM Communications Coordinator Corinne Lederhouse at 630-737-9700, ext. 9366, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Established in 1975, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) is advancing sleep care and enhancing sleep health to improve lives. The AASM has a combined membership of 11,000 accredited member sleep centers and individual members, including physicians, scientists and other health care professionals (aasm.org).
About the Sleep Research Society
The Sleep Research Society (SRS) is a professional membership society that advances sleep and circadian science. The SRS provides forums for the exchange of information, establishes and maintains standards of reporting and classifies data in the field of sleep research, and collaborates with other organizations to foster scientific investigation on sleep and its disorders. The SRS also publishes the peer-reviewed, scientific journals Sleep and Sleep Advances (sleepresearchsociety.org).