Are Smartphones Causing Headaches?

Smartphone use is soaring among all age groups and older adults are embracing technology in greater numbers. According to a recent Pew Research report, screen time has increased for people in their 60s, 70s and 80s.   More than half of people 65 and older are smartphone owners.  But is all this technology causing more headaches and more analgesic use?

A recent study, published in Neurology Clinical Practice, out of All India Institute of Medical Sciences found that smartphone users treated their headaches with drugs more frequently than people who used voice-only phones but smartphone headache patients reported lower rates of relief.  The cause of headaches from smartphone use isn’t clear but researchers suggest eye strain, posture, decreased sleep or mental strain could contribute to head pain or discomfort. 

While the data isn’t conclusive, smartphone users may get more headaches due to their neck position, the phone’s lighting, eye strain from using a small screen or the added stress of feeling the need to be connected to a device at all times.  Social medial and high cell phone use can also interfere with a restful sleep if devices are brought into the bedroom. 

Tips for better smartphone use:

  • Remove devices from the bedroom
  • Try muting your phone from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Turn off push notifications as much as possible
  • Remove unnecessary apps
  • Turn your phone to grayscale – a lack of color will make the device less appealing
  • Try tracking your usage
  • Stop scrolling and try using a smart speaker to check weather or news
  • Put cell phones away while visiting in person with friends and family

Learn more about healthy limits to smartphone use by following this link to AARP’s Staying Sharp section.  Or join others taking a vacation from their smartphones from sundown-to-sundown March 6-7 on the National Day of Unplugging