Fears of iPhone X Impacting Sleep

by Dr. Jacob Wilson, Ph.D., CSCS*D

October 30, 2017



Sleep is an integral part in our success, but everyone wants to have the latest and greatest phone. If you are like me you do not compare different phone brands. It really just comes down to whether or not I want an iPhone or an iPhone plus. Why? The late Steve Jobs hooked me with his “why”. Steve didn’t set out to make computers or phones, he set out to “Challenge the Status Quo.” This too is what I stand for. Keeping in line with this mission every iPhone pushes the boundaries of introducing technology that truly changes the game. One such area of improvement that is important to apple is your security. Think about it…our lives are tied up in our phones. Our phones track where we have been, who we have been in contact with, and what we shop for. A breach of this security would be chaos. To date, Apple has secured our phones with passwords and touch recognition. Recently, however, they took things to a whole new level. In fact, their newest iPhone X which launched protects us with facial recognition. I am predicting that for those of us not careful with this feature that we will lose sleep over it. Why? The answer is tied to the phenomena of the visible light spectrum known as blue light.

What is Blue Light & How Does It Effect Sleep?

When we open our eyes we seamlessly integrate an array of colors and lights, which, along with other senses, defines our reality. Blue light is a narrow part of this spectrum that our brain uses as a cue to trigger alertness, wakefulness, and precision. Indeed, many studies have found that blue light can enhance performance. For example, Dr. Viola and colleagues (2008) conducted a study where they used enhanced blue light bulbs in the office of white-collar workers and found that alertness and performance went up. Still other companies have found blue light to be as effective or more effective at enhancing alertness and reaction time as caffeine (Beaven et al. 2013)!


While being alert is certainly a wonderful thing during the day, it can wreak havoc on our sleep at night. It turns out that our cell phones powerfully emit blue light. In fact, research shows that greater amounts of time on our cell phones at night increase the likelihood of insomnia and of being groggy and sleepy in the mornings (Fossum et al., 2014). Why is this the case? Well, research shows that blue light lowers our bodies production and release of melatonin at night. This is the hormone that triggers the onset of sleep. The new facial recognition system developed by iPhone X may damper the release of melatonin and impair sleep. Simply put everytime someone wants to look at their phone they will likely put the screen right in front of their faces.

Now I don’t know about you but I am not planning on giving up my new iPhone X. Does this mean all hope is lost? Of course not! I wouldn’t have written this article if that were the case. There are two potential methods we can use to counter this. The first is through the use of blue light blocking glasses. These are easily located online. Studies show that wearing glasses that block blue light at night take people with insomnia and put them back to a normal range of sleep (Kimberly et al. 2009). The second method would be to put your iPhone on a night shift setting. This is Apple’s way of filtering out the blue from the visible light spectrum.

How Does Lack of Sleep Impact Your Gains?


You may be asking yourself, “This is great information Doc, but how will losing sleep effect my gains?” I am glad that you asked. When we lose sleep, we find the cortisol is increased. Cortisol is not a bad thing because we believe that it may trigger training adaptations (i.e., getting bigger and stronger). However, we know that consistently having elevated cortisol may inhibit your ability to make gains, recover, and get shredded. This study found that when subject’s lost 4-hours of sleep, it was similar to them losing all of their sleep when they were used to getting 8-hours of sleep every night. This could wreak havoc in the gym and your recovery. In addition, another study found that when depriving people of sleep for two nights (4 hours/night) subjects became insulin resistant, which could pair your ability to lose fat! Check out this article if you want to learn more about insulin and fat gain.

Sleep Conclusions

Let’s sum this up. First, the new iPhone X is likely to be chalk full of cool new features. One of those may keep us awake at night. However, we can and will challenge this with technology such as blue light blocking glasses and night shift. These are the blue light blocking glasses that I use and you can find them on Amazon for pretty cheap!