Mental Health

Nomophobia, the fear of no mobile phone, affects 89% of college students


A new study has found that “nomophobia” – the fear of being out of mobile phone contact – is now the overwhelming norm among college students.

The study suggests that 89% of college students now have either moderate or severe nomophobia. In 2012, that figure was only 77%.

The research recently appeared in an online supplement of the journal Sleep.

Nomophobia and sleep problems  

Nomophobia was significantly related to more daytime sleepiness, and more behaviors associated with poor sleep quality.

“We found that college students who experience more ‘nomophobia’ were also more likely to experience sleepiness and poorer sleep hygiene, such as long naps and inconsistent bed and wake times,” said lead author Jennifer Peszka.

The study involved 327 university students whose average age was 20.

The participants completed several questionnaires. One of those, the Nomophobia Questionnaire, asks respondents how strongly they agree or disagree with a number of statements. Examples include “I would feel uncomfortable without constant access to information through my smartphone” or “If I were to run out of credits or hit my monthly data limit, I would panic.”

Likewise, other questionnaires included the Epworth Sleepiness Scale and the Sleep Hygiene Index.

Limiting phone time can actually worsen effects

Peszka said a common recommendation to improve sleep is to limit phone use before and during bedtime. But, she said, for people with nomophobia, this recommendation might only increase anxiety and further disrupt sleep.

And that calls for customized responses. “The recommendation to curtail bedtime phone use, which is meant to improve sleep and seems rather straightforward, might need adjustment or consideration for these individuals,” she said.

Study: Sleep, Sleepiness, and Sleep Hygiene Related to Nomophobia (No Mobile Phone Phobia)
Authors: J Peszka et al.
Published in: Sleep
Publication date: May 27, 2020
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsaa056.178
Photo: by Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

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