Tired of Sleeping With Your Smart Phone? You Need This

A charging pad with an iPhone, AirPods, and Apple Watch, next to a bed.
Jason Fitzpatrick / How-To Geek

If your habit of charging your phone on your nightstand to keep it nearby “just in case” leads to some not-so-great bedtime and wake-up routines centered around your smartphone, there’s a simple solution to your problem.

The Problem? We Want to Keep Our Phones Close

Maybe you’re one of those people that plug their iPhone or Android phone in to charge or drop it on the charging cradle at the end of the day, and you leave it there until you head off to work in the morning. If so, this article really isn’t for you.

But, more likely, you’re one of the millions of people who sleep next to their phone and have developed some sleep and well-being-disrupting habits related to your smartphone. Rare is the person who hasn’t lost a few hours (and more likely a few thousand over the years) to a bit of mindless bedtime scrolling. And if general mindless scrolling through funny videos wasn’t bad enough at disrupting your sleep, upgrading mindless scrolling to doom scrolling and you’ve got a perfect recipe for not-so-great sleep and a rough start to your day.

Smartphones might have changed a lot over the years, but the degree to which we use them (and keep them close) hasn’t changed much. In 2010, a Pew Research survey found that 90% of respondents in the 18-29 demographic slept with their phones on their bed or nightstand, and 70% of the 30-49-year-old respondents did too.

A 2020 sleep survey conducted by Philips found 74% of people use their smartphone in bed, 39% use their phone right before falling asleep and immediately after waking up, and 33% charge their phone next to their bed.

While people will give you different reasons for keeping their phone so close, ranging from wanting to stay on top of notifications to using the phone as entertainment before bed to using their phone as their only alarm clock, if you pick away at their reasons and press harder, it almost always comes down to one thing.

Once you get past the phone as a sound machine, alarm clock, or entertainment device, there’s one primal and intense reason people want their smartphone close: emergencies. What if they need to call for an ambulance? What if somebody breaks in? What if a loved one has an emergency and needs to call them?

You can convince somebody to use an analog white noise machine instead of their phone, ditch the phone alarm for a regular alarm or even a smart alarm, and argue in favor of a lights-out policy for better sleep (instead of a TikTok until you pass out routine). But when you suggest putting the phone somewhere out of reach, you run into that primal fear that it won’t be nearby when needed.

The Solution? A Phone for Your Phone

While most people will agree that it’s not great to stay up for hours blasting your face with a tiny bad-news-delivering floodlight, there is intense resistance to being completely without the phone in case of emergencies.

And hey, we get it. If you can wirelessly call for help from anywhere inside or outside your home, it seems silly to put that magic wireless help-summoning device out of reach when you might wake up in the middle of the night, vulnerable and in need of it.

Fortunately, there’s a compromise that blends old technology with new technology, however, so you can make that emergency call while also making a conscious choice to put the phone down at the end of the day and not pick it back up again until you’re ready to the next morning. That solution? A phone for your phone.

It sounds like a tongue-in-cheek solution, but we’re serious. Because of plummeting landline use and, as a result, plummeting traditional phone use, not a lot of people are aware of a very handy cordless phone feature that has been on the market for years: Bluetooth connectivity that links your smartphone to a cordless phone system. (And yes, it works with iPhones, Samsung Galaxy phones, and other Android phones.)

A traditional phone on a nightstand table, linked to a cellphone via Bluetooth
Jason Fitzpatrick / How-To Geek

The feature first appeared in the 2010s, and the selling point was that it offered a way for you to use your home phone system in parallel, answering both traditional phone calls to your landline and cellphone on the same device.

You can still use such systems for combination landline/cellphone use, but you don’t need a landline to use cordless phones with the feature. You can use them with just the Bluetooth-to-cellphone link, allowing you to plug your smartphone in to charge anywhere in your home (as long as it’s within Bluetooth range with the cordless phone base station) and then answer and make calls with the cordless phone.

If you’re in the camp of “I really want to stop using my phone before bed and wrecking my sleep, but I don’t want to end up a minor character in a Netflix true-crime documentary because my phone was charging in the kitchen and I couldn’t call for help…” person, it’s a perfect solution. You can sleep soundly without the urge to pick up your phone and doom scroll, and you can still call for help should the need arise.

There’s only one key detail to be aware of when executing this plan and transitioning to using a cordless phone as your bedtime emergency line instead of a smartphone: there are two kinds of Bluetooth support modes for cordless phones.

First, there’s Bluetooth support, wherein the cordless phone works with Bluetooth accessories such as wireless headsets. That’s useful, but not for our purposes.

Then there’s Bluetooth designed specifically for linking cellphones to the base station such that the base station and additional cordless handsets can use the cellphone as an input device for making and receiving calls.

AT&T and VTech cordless phones call this feature “Connect to Cell,” Panasonic calls it “Link2Cell,” and other vendors have branded names for it too.

While buying a single handset device might be tempting, we’d recommend at least buying a base station with one additional handset, even if it costs an extra $20-30 over the single base station. The base stations tend to be bulk and hardly nightstand friendly. (The one notable exception we found was this VTech ruggedized model, but unless you love the bright yellow and black construction site vibe, it’s probably not the nightstand accessory you crave.)

It’s better to put the base station in your kitchen or somewhere else outside your bedroom and then the slim satellite station with the additional handset on your nightstand. Better yet, the further your phone is from you at night the less tempting it is to grab it.

Finally, as a side note, there are aftermarket adapters that allow you to link a cellphone to any traditional phone, but it’s a hassle compared to a cordless phone that supports it out of the box. Unless you want to use your smartphone with a retro Conair clear trimphone for some throwback 90s vibes, it’s hardly worth the effort.

Whichever cordless phone you end up with (or whatever retro phone you modernize with an adapter), you’ll have solved the problem. You can sleep with easy access to an emergency line right at your fingertips without feeling like you’re always within arms reach of your phone—the doom scrolling risk that comes with it.

Leave a Comment