As I'm usually quite sceptic I was a bit surprised when I read over at The Independent that a study sponsored by mobile phone companies themselves warns cell phone users about radiation. The researchers found that radiation from cell phones may delay and reduce sleep, and cause headaches and confusion. However, as you might expect the phone makers were pretty quick to point out that the results were "inconclusive".
The findings are especially alarming for children and teenagers, most of whom – surveys suggest – use their phones late at night and who especially need sleep. Their failure to get enough can lead to mood and personality changes, ADHD-like symptoms, depression, lack of concentration and poor academic performance.
The study – carried out by scientists from the blue-chip Karolinska Institute and Uppsala University in Sweden and from Wayne State University in Michigan, USA – is thought to be the most comprehensive of its kind.
Published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Progress in Electromagnetics Research Symposium and funded by the Mobile Manufacturers Forum, representing the main handset companies, it has caused serious concern among top sleep experts, one of whom said that there was now "more than sufficient evidence" to show that the radiation "affects deep sleep".
The scientists studied 35 men and 36 women aged between 18 and 45. Some were exposed to radiation that exactly mimicked what is received when using mobile phones; others were placed in precisely the same conditions, but given only "sham" exposure, receiving no radiation at all.
The people who had received the radiation took longer to enter the first of the deeper stages of sleep, and spent less time in the deepest one. The scientists concluded: "The study indicates that during laboratory exposure to 884 MHz wireless signals components of sleep believed to be important for recovery from daily wear and tear are adversely affected."
The embarrassed Mobile Manufacturers Forum played down the results, insisting – at apparent variance with this published conclusion – that its "results were inconclusive" and that "the researchers did not claim that exposure caused sleep disturbance".
If you're concerned about your sleep it might be a good idea to keep your phone far away from your bed at night.