Unplug for Better Sleep

Electromagnetic fields, or EMFs, are invisible areas of force around electricity that is flowing. EMFs are produced by power lines, transformers, electric wiring (especially where power comes into the building), televisions, radios, computers, cell phones, telephones with adapters, cordless phones, electric blankets, waterbeds, fluorescent lights, microwave ovens, airport and military radar, and so forth.

Electromagnetic fields are not always artificial. there is a natural field of the earth that results from earth radiation, and the body has an electromagnetic energy field of its own, transmitting about 3 volts of electricity (about half the energy of a night light).

These natural fields are not the problem. In human beings, complications arising out of continuous EMF exposure are known as electro hypersensitivity [EHS]. If you have insomnia (can’t sleep for 6 hours at a go), it might be the man-made EMFs that are interfering with your sleep.

How Can EMFs Affect the Body?

There are a number of studies that have been done regarding health and EMFs, with their resulting theories. To read about some of these studies, see the links at the end of the article.

Nerves, hearts and various biological processes in living organisms work on electrical impulses. It makes sense that electricity could affect these processes.

Our brain wave frequencies range between 0.5Hz and 30Hz (Hz is short for Hertz, or cycles per second), depending on whether we are relaxed or mentally active. The electrical grids produced by electric companies in most countries of the world run on a 50 cycle current, and those in the United States on a 60 cycle one. So, right away, the ubiquitous electrical currents are not in sync with our bodies.

Specifically related to sleep, some studies have shown that EMFs reduce the nocturnal emission of the hormone melatonin in the pineal gland. Melatonin causes drowsiness and lowers body temperature to help induce sleep. In further studies, when the EMFs were reduced or eliminated, the levels of nocturnal melatonin increased five to fifteen times.  (Studies by Anderson 1990, Wilson 1986).

High levels of electromagnetic frequencies have acted as one of the stresses of modern civilization. The adrenal glands, in reaction to stress, release the hormones cortisone and adrenaline, which can lead to adrenal exhaustion.

Since EMFs are present in all modern buildings, or any with electrical wiring, one could wonder if they contribute to Sick Building Syndrome.

Over the years since the introduction of electricity, power quality has deteriorated and more variable electromagnetic fields are produced. If electricity can be likened to water flowing in a pipe, then visualize an incandescent light bulb as an open tap allowing a constant rate of water to flow into the sink. Computers, on the other hand, use power in variable amount, analogous to turning the tap on and off repetitively, causing water pipes to clang.  This variability in the fields is unpredictable, not rhythmical and therefore difficult for our bodies to adapt to.

What To Do For Better Sleep:

It is chronic exposure that is of greatest concern when it comes to all kinds of toxic influences. Since we are asleep one-third of the time, we are vulnerable to chronic exposure during that time. Here are some of the EPA’s guidelines for “prudent avoidance” of EMFs, as related to sleep:

  • Measure your home environment with an EMF meter , both inside and outside. Avoid areas where the field is above 1 mG.  (The EPA has proposed a safety standard of 1 mG. Sweden has set a maximum safety limit of 1 mG.) Measure appliances when both on and off. Some appliances, such as televisions, are still drawing current when off. If anything in your bedroom is like that, unplug it at night.
  • Don’t sleep under an electric blanket, with an electrical heating pad, or on a waterbed. If you must have them, unplug them before sleep. When turned on, electric bedding devices create a magnetic field that penetrates about 6 –7 inches into the body. When merely turned off, there may still be a strong electric field.
  • If you watch TV at night, stay at least 6 ft. away, or use an EMF meter to determine the safest distance.
  • If there is a computer, TV, refrigerator, or other electric appliance in a room outside your bedroom, do not locate it on a wall shared with the bedroom, since fields do radiate from all sides of the computer and they do go through walls.
  • Back off from your computer as much as possible if you use it before sleep. Keep it at arm’s length whenever possible. The same goes for a microwave oven, electric oven, toaster or other electrical appliance.
  • Move electrical appliances permanently out of the bedroom, where possible. That includes televisions, radios, stereos, cell phones and chargers, laptops and chargers, computers, telephones, air conditioners, heaters, etc. If you can’t move them out, unplug them. If you can’t unplug them, move them at least 6 feet from your bed.
  • Electric clocks have a very high magnetic field, as much as 5 to 10 mG up to three feet away. If you are using a bedside clock, you are probably sleeping in an EMF equivalent to that of a power line.
  • Eliminate wires running under your bed or any chair or table you use in your bedroom or close to bedtime.
  • Eliminate dimmers and 3-way switches in your bedroom.
  • If you use a cordless toothbrush or razor, use it in the morning. Use the old-fashioned, manual models at bedtime.
  • If you wear a quartz-analog watch, take it off well before bedtime, because it radiates pulsating EMFs.
  • Take off metal jewelry, such as earrings, at night.
  • Eyeglass frames should ideally be made from plastic. If they are made of metal or have metal wires in them, they can serve as an antenna to focus the radio and cellular phone waves directly into your brain.
  • If at all possible, do not sleep in the room where the electrical wiring enters the house. At the least, move your bed away from the panel or fuse box.
  • Move the bed as far as possible from an electric heater.
  • Position your router antenna to point in a horizontal position or as close to it as possible. That is the next best to replacing it with a wired connection. Note: a broadband cable has an electromagnetic field and ideally would not be in your bedroom.
  • Upgrade your computer monitor to a flat screen LCD model that produces low electromagnetic radiations.
  • Never use a laptop on your lap while it is connected to the charger and using AC power.
  • Avoid charging your mobile phone or laptop in the bedroom.
  • Turn off the lights. Fluorescent lights produce radio frequencies from a tiny transformer that is used to excite the gas inside the tube to provide light.
  • If you have electric heating coils in walls, ceiling or floor, reduce their  fields by turning down the night-time thermostat.
  • If these measures are not enough, there may be faults in the electrical wiring or the wiring may be of the older knob-and-tube type that can generate high magnetic fields. You can even try shutting off the electrical circuit to your bedroom, at your fuse box or electric panel.

Detection and Measurement:

You can hear your wireless radiation with an electronic smog detector, and the sound is louder the closer you get to the device. If you live in an apartment, you can also detect wireless sources on the other side of your bedroom wall.

EMF meters measure electromagnetic fields. These meter can help you determine which appliances or wiring are causing the most trouble and how far you need to be from them to get a good night’s sleep.

Some measurements of human bodies in a resting state, using meters, have been in the range of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of millivolts, where they should be no more than 20 millivolts.


Day and Night:

As a last note, there are things other than EMFs that disturb our sleep. To feel really rested, get the most out of the hours you devote to sleeping (or trying to sleep), think of darkness as the signal to sleep and daylight as the signal to wake and get moving. Our bodies are geared to the light-dark cycle. It may be adventurous to stay up all night once in a while (I like to do it just to prove to myself that I still can), but not as a routine.

If you are a Night Owl, you may be able to gently move yourself into a more natural schedule by doing sleeping-type things at night and waking-type things during the day. If you have to work nights, out of necessity, make sure to keep your bedroom absolutely dark when you sleep during the day (blackout curtains may help). And if you read in bed and fall asleep with the light on (as I do), get a reading lamp or battery-powered booklight that you can turn off with little effort.

Take a Walk:

Another great tip is to take a walk before bed, or any time in the evening or late afternoon. This is not for exercise or to mull over the thorny problems of the day, but to simply look about yourself and notice how things are, right now.

Other Reading:


EMF: Home Truths

Definitions of Terms for Electromagnetic Fields

Body Electric

By | 2019-05-14T04:50:16-07:00 November 11th, 2010|Nontoxic|

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  1. Blake January 5, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Thank you for the detailed info and the tips on avoiding all sorts of EMFs. It’s such a dilemma, with any device, because they have been so integrated into our daily lives; especially cell phones, because we carry those with us everywhere! I used to have mine in my pocket or in my lap all the time, and now I make sure to keep it on a table next to me or in the cup holder in my car. But I’ve done some research on radiation protection products and found there are some products out there which allow you to go about your daily life with peace of mind. The best ones I found were from Pong Research because they divert the cell phone radiation away from your body and head, and don’t disrupt the signal. Pong’s cases are proven to reduce SAR (specific absorption rate) up to 95% below FCC limits while protecting the signal strength. They protect the whole cell phone, and still provide good protection from drops and bumps. They offer cases for the iPhone, Android phones, Blackberrys and even the iPad. It’s only slightly more expensive than other sturdy cases, so why not spend the little more to protect yourself and your children!

  2. MaPan October 19, 2011 at 12:37 am

    Thanks for your suggestion. Very useful for me to improve sleep.

  3. Terry September 6, 2011 at 4:24 am

    Avoiding the use of metal during sleep is important as metal attracts radiations. So it’s better to wear earrings, rings and other ornaments whenever you sleep. It’s not good to wear even a watch as it works on a battery. Ensure that you sleep with all the lights of your house switched off. These are some basics to help you to keep away from harmful radiations.

  4. Domenic De Giorgio@fasteners canada September 5, 2011 at 5:18 am

    Cheryl, that’s a very good example. The concept is what has impressed me the most. I think there must be some kind of magnetic force which attracts all the radiations to the gadgets. Also this gadget does not make use of electricity which means it truly has the power to reduce on the radiations in the environment. Thanks for this example Cheryl!

  5. Bianca@Signal repeaters August 31, 2011 at 4:06 am

    Everyone is tired of living such a stressful life. We all would love to live a life where we can breathe fresh air and where we can stay healthy. In a crowded city we only are happy because here we get an opportunity to earn a handsome amount but if internally we ask ourselves about it then we aren’t happy at all as we are not able to live our lives stress free.

  6. Charles Ceccarelli August 25, 2011 at 5:21 am

    I agree. Taking a walk is very important. In our house, no matter how late we have our dinner, I and my wife ensure that we go out for a walk post dinner. Also there are many other ways you can avoid the EMF’s. 3-way switches emit more electromagnetic fields than the other ones. Ensure that you do not have long wires near your bed. See to it that you switch off the gadgets from the main switch because keeping it on the ‘standby’ mode is as same as keeping it ‘On’.

  7. Mary Alice August 22, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    I have juiced carrots/apples with a variety of veges/fruit for 14 yrs, and on a daily basis for the last 4. I have only recently added ginger (just a small cube) to the carrot, apple, lemon, orange and beets each morning. And its just beautiful. Wish I’d added it sooner.

  8. Linda@watch nba live August 17, 2011 at 3:09 am

    I have heard about some gadgets that have the power to absorb the harmful radiations emitted from the EMF’s. But I have not found any gadgets in the market yet. If anybody is aware about these, please let me know as I am looking forward to buy these. My house has a lot of electronics everywhere. Think of any of them and I have it at home. My son likes to collect electronic toys and music players, IPod, play stations. I am in need of a gadget which will absorb these harmful radiations.

  9. Adam@Best Web Hosting Company August 12, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    The example that you have posted seems to be helpful, but I think it’s not going to work as I have read the reviews of the ones who have bought it for themselves and are using it. What is that necklace made of? Does it seriously absorb the harmful radiations emitted from EMF’s? To be frank I am not sure whether I will buy this product or no as I am still in a dicey situation. Let’s see! Is there any other way to get rid of these radiations from EMF’s?

  10. Wu@microscope with camera August 11, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Are there any medications to cure harmful effects of EMF? We cannot get rid of them, they are everywhere. If I decide to turn off the gadgets, still they may be working somewhere near. Is there any machine to check the damaged caused to our bodies by these radiations?

  11. Anything that works or executes its functions with the use of electricity is not good. But it’s not possible to carry on with our day-to-day activities without electricity. Electronic gadgets produce and release harmful electro-magnetic fields, which will harm our bodies in every sense. But the use of electricity just cannot be avoided. The only thing we can do is try to limit ourselves by avoiding the use of it to whatever extent is possible. Switch off your computers and music system, I-Pad and I-Phone, when not in use.

  12. Marc Derikx August 11, 2011 at 3:54 am

    I have a question. Are EMF’s harmful only during sleep? If they harm us during the daytime too, then what is the solution? I am in an IT firm and we have computers and mobiles all around us. It is next to impossible to keep oneself away from them. Even if we get a separate cabin, radiation would remain of course!

  13. Emily August 6, 2011 at 12:32 am

    Even if these EMF’s are harmful, there is no body on this earth that will be able to live without a few of them. You cannot just get rid of them, as they are a part and parcel of your life. The only thing we can do is try to control the use of these EMF’s to the maximum possible extent. This can be done, for example, by only using those gadgets that are the most important ones and without which we cannot manage.

  14. Bijo@arizona pest control August 4, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    EMF’s have a real impact on everybody’s health. It is specifically bad for those who are surrounded by EMF. Your blog has made us aware of the consequences that are caused by EMF’s. So then I think: the more rich you are, the more EMF’s you have around you, and so the more risky life you live. So I think I am happy that I belong to a middle class family.

  15. Jordan Xiong August 3, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    Hi Dean, I think it’s better to complete your studies and then think over it because whenever you change onto a new place its always that you will require a little time to settle and get use to that environment. So I think it’s better to wait for a while and then decide whether you want to wait or go back home. If you are still not comfortable with EMF’s all around then it does not make sense for you to stay here and spoil your health. Some of us are not habitual to the EMF environment and so find it difficult to stay there.

  16. Dean Werchon August 2, 2011 at 12:33 am

    I have just shifted to an urban area with the prospect of continuing my further studies plus doing a part time job. Later on, after completing my studies, I am planning to settle down here and switch to a full time job. You all will not believe that, these days, I am so stressed at work that I am unable to manage both things at one time. As the town side is so crowded and covered with EMF’s all over, I am finding it very uncomfortable out here. I am in a dicey situation now, not knowing whether I should settle in a city or move back to my house, after completing my studies, as the environment over there is pollution-free and there is greenery all over.

  17. Simon July 16, 2011 at 12:27 am

    I stay in a hostel and have a group of 6 girls in my room. I am so irritated that at times I don’t know what to do. I have to reach my office at 9 sharp in the morning and, for that, I need to get up at 7. All my roommates get up late in the morning, so they sleep late. They play music, watch movies and gossip. They don’t even let me switch off the lights. Because of electricity, I don’t even get to sleep properly and this is impacting my work.

  18. Sally Bowden July 14, 2011 at 4:02 am

    Hey, after reading this blog, I feel that, in that case, I am lucky, because I belong to a middle class family and we don’t have many electronic gadgets. Apart from a refrigerator and a computer, we don’t have any electronic items in our house. If EMF’s are so harmful to our bodies, I feel that living without these gadgets is safer. I used to feel very bad that I didn’t have a fully-furnished house, but now I am not going to curse or force my parents to buy me an iPod, television, music system and so on. I think it’s much much safer to live without these gadgets.

  19. Emily Fernandes July 12, 2011 at 1:50 am

    Hi, Cheryl. You know what? I have bought the same book. My friend suggested this book to me, so I thought I’d give it a try. EMF’s will not let you have the amount of sleep that you wish to have or should have, so you need to unplug all your electronic gadgets before sleep.

    Also, I think, Michael, that even you should read it. This book will help you with lots of solutions to all your problems.

  20. Michael Szummer July 8, 2011 at 12:03 am

    I was unaware of EMF and the adverse effects that it had on human beings. I just got scared while reading your blog. As I wanted to know about it in detail, I read it further, and I was surprised to find out about EMF. I work in a call center, so I don’t get to sleep during the night. Since reading your blog, I’ve ensured that, whenever I sleep during the daytime, I at least have total black-out in my room and ensure that none of my gadgets are ON, not even my laptop or the TV.

  21. Patrick June 26, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    My dad just loves going to his native place because that place is very peaceful. The usage of electronic gadgets does exist over there, but it is not as much as you find it in a crowded city. Also, here in the city, my dad has to have sleeping pills before going off to sleep. He enjoys going there; the first reason is that he does not have a work load over there. There is a lot of greenery around, and also he enjoys sleeping till late in the morning. He says he is very comfortable sleeping there and does not require sleeping pills to go to sleep. The reason behind this is that the usage of EMF is comparatively quite a bit less.

  22. Dominic Faith June 21, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    After reading the blog and the comments that follow, I am becoming aware about EMF and its effects on health. I want to know how can we save ourselves from all these ill effects? Please tell me up to what limit is EMF not harmful, and how to measure if it’s above it, and what steps we can take to counter them.

    • Cheryl June 23, 2011 at 7:41 am

      Hi, Dominic Faith. The answers to your questions are in the article.

  23. Carlos June 21, 2011 at 4:19 am

    A lot of research is done, and still going on, regarding the effects of EMF on health. In some cases, EMF has been associated with childhood leukemia and cancer. Research on animals has shown that they are prone to cancer when exposed to EMF under specified conditions. Above a certain level, EMF can cause adverse effects, and hypersensitivity, cataract and eye irritations have been reported.

  24. Jonathan Dylan June 13, 2011 at 3:51 am

    EMF can cause dielectric heating and research shows that prolonged exposure can even lead to DNA fragmentation in the Comet assay. Mobile phones may cause cancer, cognitive effects, blood-brain barrier effects, sleep and EEG effects and many more. Allen Cooper has shared a very important piece of information how we are negatively affecting the environment instead of contributing to its betterment. Thanks to Cheryl as well for her contribution.

    • Cheryl June 13, 2011 at 10:19 am

      Thanks, Jonathan!
      Some definitions that might be useful to some readers (from the Free Dictionary):

      dialectic heating: The heating of electrically nonconducting materials by a rapidly varying electromagnetic field.
      Comet Assay: A rapid method for detecting DNA damage in individual cells.
      EEG (electroencephalogram): A record of the tiny electrical impulses produced by the brain’s activity.

  25. Allen Cooper March 22, 2011 at 2:59 am

    Electromagnetism effects all sorts of life on this planet. Plants, birds, and toads have been involved in experiments related to the effects of electromagnetic waves. There is some evidence that seems to point to a disruption in the breeding patterns of birds when electromagnetic fields are changed. Apparently, pigeons are also able to use electromagnetic waves for navigation during their migrations.
    Electromagnetic radiation also can be harmful at high frequencies. I’ve included a link to a research project from Russia. It is difficult reading, but the chart at the end shows some of the effects they have encountered in their research.

    • Cheryl March 22, 2011 at 8:37 am

      Hi, Allen. Thank you for telling us about all this research. We would love to see the Russian study, but there doesn’t seem to be a link within your comment. You are welcome to try to leave the link, again.

  26. Juan March 10, 2011 at 1:55 am

    Another area of concern is the radiation emitted by the fixed infrastructure used in mobile telephony, such as base stations and their antennas, which provide the link to and from mobile phones. This is because, in contrast to mobile handsets, it is emitted continuously and is more powerful at close quarters. On the other hand, field intensities drop rapidly with distance away from the base of the antenna because of the attenuation of power with the square of distance. Base station emissions must comply with safety guidelines (see Safety standards and licensing below). Some countries however (such as South Africa for example) have no health regulations governing the placement of base stations.

    • Cheryl March 10, 2011 at 10:57 am

      Thanks, Juan. That is very useful information. When planning to move to a new house or apartment, if you use Google Earth to look over the general area, you can spot high voltage towers. Perhaps you can also see where there are mobile telephone base stations and antennas.

  27. Eric Ward February 22, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    I have this quaint thought, is all these gadgets & modern technology really helping us? They have made us less active, less alert, unresponsive and irresponsible, apart from making us physically lethargic. Not to mention the diseases/ailments which come associated with these. Do we really need them at such cost?

  28. Brianna Fox February 22, 2011 at 2:57 am

    This explains the reason that when I go to my native place, I do get a peaceful & sound sleep. Oh yes, they have modern gadgets, but not much EMF, simply because they use fewer electrical appliances. Since not many people reside there, they also don’t consume much electricity!

  29. Simon February 9, 2011 at 1:23 am

    Electromagnetic fields are all over, and it is we who have created them. I have also heard that EMF can complicate and alter the genetic structure of unborn kids. Hence, pregnant women should avoid coming into electromagnetic fields. Do let me know how right this is.

    • Cheryl February 10, 2011 at 3:51 pm

      Hi, Simon.
      EMF research is on-going. Whether or not EMF’s cause harm to unborn babies is still being researched. Here’s a research summary.

  30. Alok Appadurai December 27, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    My girlfriend Jade has been having difficulty sleeping recently and by chance I happened to stumble on your article! I just read an interesting article in Harper’s about Electro Magnetic Fields. Maybe you are spot-on regarding her sleep challenges? Thank you for posting this!

  31. Cheryl December 14, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    I guess that is the sound of “electronic smog.”

  32. Bill December 14, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    She’s right on. I recently spent the weekend at my aunt and uncles place. They had a lot of electrical gadgets, WIFI and stuff, and I couldn’t sleep a wink. There was almost like this high-pitched whining noise, like fingers on a chalk board, that all that electricity was making.

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