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EMF Exposure: Sleep and Health Effects

A young woman unable to fall asleep stares into the night. A nearby cell tower emitting  EMFs in the Radiofrequency range may be preventing her sleep.
Can't sleep? It's possible your sleep cycle is off due to EMF toxins emitted by your electronic devices or nearby cell towers

Though the Scientific and Health communities as a whole won’t come right out and say it, EMF exposure is not good for humans. Studies continually point to its’ damaging health consequences which include an array of issues from stress and sleep disorders to chronic illness. EMFs in the radiofrequency (RF) range have been labeled a possible human carcinogen (this is based on an increased risk for glioma; a malignant type of brain cancer.)

For the most part, we don’t hear much about these studies—and when we do, the results are downplayed. But the bottom line is, most of us are aware EMF exposure has sleep and health effects. So, it may be time to ask ourselves if our dependence on gadgets and convenience is preventing us from taking EMF exposure seriously enough.

EMFs & our "smart" tech

Radiofrequency range EMFs include our “smart” tech devices like cell phones and tablets, as well as base stations, Wi-Fi, 5G, radios, and televisions. There are many additional sources of electro-pollution we’re also exposed to 24/7. We encounter them in our homes, offices, and outdoor environments.

While their presence is nothing new, the dangers of EMF exposure have increased exponentially with the explosive growth of smart technology. It’s no longer enough to have a general awareness of these lurking health hazards. Instead, we should take a closer look, and seek ways to mitigate the damage they cause to our sleep and overall health.  In this post, we will cover:

  • What are EMFs?
  • 4 Types of EMFs we find at home
  • Where we encounter EMFs in the home
  • ElectroHyper-Sensitivity
  • What is an EMF Refugee?
  • How EMFs affect sleep
  • EMF effects on overall health
  • How to deal with EMFs

What exactly are EMFs?

EMFs are electric and magnetic fields generated around anything that uses or moves electricity. Because our bodies are electrified by nature and have their own electromagnetism, we are extremely sensitive to environmental EMF radiation.

Sleep issues may be the first clue that something toxic is happening to your body

A woman lying in bed, covers her face in frustration because she can't sleep.

Exposure to EMFs can overwhelm us physically, mentally and emotionally. The consequences to our sleep are significant and may be the first clue that something toxic is happening to our system. These magnetic fields cause stress to our bodies by weakening the immune system and making it more vulnerable to chronic disease.

ElectroHyper-Sensitivity

Certain individuals show more sensitivity to EMF exposure and develop a condition called ElectroHyper-Sensitivity (EHS.) If there’s an upside to this affliction, it's that their systems have a sort of early-warning-system the rest of us lack. Oddly, this might be seen as a benefit since it forces them to confront the effects sooner.

Also known as “Microwave Syndrome, EHS is a clinical syndrome characterized by a wide spectrum of non-specific multiple organ symptoms. These symptoms typically include effects to the central nervous system and occur following chronic exposure to electromagnetic fields in the person’s environment. Symptoms most often reported are:

  • Sleep disturbances, including Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Depression and depressive symptoms
  • Dizziness, tiredness and fatigue
  • Dysesthesia (a painful, itchy sensation)
  • Lack of concentration
  • Memory issues

Managing EHS

The only known cure for EHS is to stop being exposed to high frequencies.The good news is, once someone has figured out what's causing their illness, they can use EMF shielding materials for protection—this includes bed canopies to shield you while you’re sleeping. Moving away from the source, using a device or appliance less, turning it off, unplugging appliances when not in use, and sitting or sleeping away from problem sources can also help.

We may not be currently feeling the effects of EMF exposure, but we know we’re constantly exposed. If we’re not taking steps to minimize our EMF exposure, we’re probably heading for a wake-up call.

A man grimacing in distress because he can't sleep, sits on the edge of the bed, with his head in his hand
Some individuals experience such severe EMF effects that they're forced to move to microwave-radiation-free living spaces

What is an EMF Refugee?

EMF Refugees make up only 1% of the population, but their numbers are growing. These ElectroHyper-Sensitive (EHS) individuals are so negatively affected by EMFs, they have been more or less forced to seek asylum in “Clean Zones” (living spaces free of man-made microwave radiation and electrical pollution.) Upending your life is a tough choice, but what else can you do when you’re desperate for a good night’s sleep—and days free from constant pain and fatigue?

We don’t hear about them from the media, and we don’t hear from them because they can’t be on a computer or smart phone. At all. Some are able to recover after time spent away in healing environments—others continue to live outside society.

Who are these refugees?

People from all walks, have left their electronically polluted communities to find technology-free seclusion in remote locations. And they’re not only escaping from the technologythey’re also escaping from the rest of us.

After all, what good does it do them to disconnect from the tech when we’re all walking around with the tech on us? Their stories are eye-opening and remind us that the devices, appliances and gadgets we’ve come to depend on may someday impact our lives in ways we’ve never imagined. I’ll leave some “story” links below.

Will refugee numbers increase?

3-5% of the population is moderately affected by EMF exposure.  Current estimates say an additional 25%-30% of us are being made ill by microwave radiation and electrical pollution—but are unable to recognize where the symptoms are coming from.  Since technology only continues to accelerate, we can expect to see those numbers go up accordingly.

An off-grid father holds his daughter as the two smile and laugh while walking in a grassy field.

Clean Zones allow ElectroHyper-Sensitive individuals to sleep and live without constant pain and fatigue

Is it all in their heads—or is it in their environments?

Biologists and Doctors who’ve studied EHS know there are physical and genetic biomarkers showing this condition is not only real but is also cause for concern. Unfortunately, since this is not always convenient information, there are those who pass EHS off as psychosomatic. Fortunately, there are many qualified professionals working diligently to help these EHS individuals put their lives back together.

Some, like Jeromy Johnson, are also looking out for the rest of us by raising awareness and providing helpful EMF strategies to keep us and our families healthy. Jeromy worked in Silicon Valley before he began experiencing the effects of wireless technology and electrical pollution himself. His website is packed with research and EMF solutions like How to Set Up a Low-EMF Internet Connection to help you start minimizing EMF exposure in your home.

Though we encounter EMFs virtually everywhere, this blog will primarily focus on EMF exposure in the home environment, and how it affects our lives. Here are the EMF sources to be concerned with at home…

4 EMFsources we’re exposed to at home

  • Microwave Radiation comes from wireless technology like our Wi-Fi routers and cellphones—but also from cell towers and “smart” meters.
  • Dirty Electricity consists of the frequencies traveling on your home wiring to power things like fluorescent lighting and dimmer switches, solar power inverters, and wireless “smart” meters.
  • Electric fields radiate from unshielded electrical wiring and devices.
  • Magnetic Fields come from power lines, bad wiring and appliances.

Why should you be concerned when they keep telling us EMFs aren’t that bad?

If we’ve learned anything these past few years, it’s to do our own research. We also have to look harder at who “they” are. It’s not easy to get an unbiased response to anything when the other side has “skin in the game.” The corporations and utilities companies in this sector have multi-billion-dollar investments to protect, and shareholders to appease. This means we should not only think about what they’re saying—but also why they’re saying it.

The NIH website posted this article entitled: Health risks from radiofrequency radiation, including 5G, should be assessed by experts with no conflicts of interest, on October 20, 2020. It’s good to see a regulatory body making the case for more transparency, but I am only aware of it, nearly 2 years later, because of this blog and that is troubling. The take-away from the article is this quote, “The lack of proper unbiased risk evaluation of the 5G technology places populations at risk. Furthermore, there seems to be a cartel of individuals monopolizing evaluation committees, thus reinforcing the no-risk paradigm. We believe that this activity should qualify as scientific misconduct.”

An expert weighs in...

Physician-epidemiologist, and public health specialist, Sam Milham MD, MPH believes we personally, and as a society must take steps to co-exist wisely with our useful but dangerous technology. Dr Milham believes the recent proliferation of RF radiation from cell phones and towers, Wi-Fi, broadcast internet, and personal electronics is ushering in an epidemic of EMF-related illnesses. First to alert the world about the link between occupational EMF pollution and disease, he’s sounding an alarm again in his book on Dirty Electricity.

Do all “experts” agree? Absolutely not. There are plenty who don’t. At one time, Richard Conrad, a PhD in Biochemistry was one of them—even though he had a friend who was ElectroHyper-Sensitive. Dr Conrad was skeptical and chalked it up to her emotional fears. A few years later, he began experiencing severe symptoms himself. Now he relies on direct experience and says: 

“It is not necessary to be able to conceive of or to understand a mechanism before acceptance of good anecdotal or experimental evidence. In that case, we would never have any new discoveries. No good scientist would discard reproducible evidence out of hand just because it is anecdotal and does not fit pre-conceived ideas or theories, instead she or he would become excited at the prospect of new understanding.”

Where we encounter EMFs at home

You'll be surprised to see how many sources—both wired and wireless produce these concerning Electro Magnetic Fields. At least I was. Suddenly I’m discovering how many EMFs permeate my space. Pretty much everything from the vacuum to the electric toothbrush is suspect. And, I have questions...

Why am I just now learning to stay 20 feet away from the Wi-Fi router? Why do they call them laptops if you’re never supposed to put one on your lap? Since the effects of all these electronics are cumulative,

I also have questions for myself:

  1. Do I really need access to all my devices 24/7?
  2. Why can’t I remember to unplug things when they’re not in use?
  3. What’s the big deal about turning off my phone when I’m sleeping?
  4. Will my boss really kill me if the battery dies in my battery alarm clock?
  5. Is it wrong to be happy about shorter cell phone calls?
  6. Should I feel guilty for wanting to unplug the treadmill first?

And there goes my focus.

Examining our must-haves

Most of us are pretty tied to our cell phones, so starting there makes sense. Am I going to tell you to stop using your phone? I’m not—but I will say you’ll probably sleep better if you don’t take it to bed with you. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Cell phones are the one thing we’ve actually heard rumblings about, almost from the beginning.

We’ve been warned to keep them away from our bodies because of the EMF exposure, and yet, look around… they’re carried in hip-pockets, in the leg-pockets of yoga pants, even tucked into blouses. They’re always with us and we keep them close—too close. Ever want to slip your electronic leash? I do, but that said, the mere thought that I might have left the cell phone at home sends me into absolute panic.

Take advantage of the speakerphone feature or use a headset to limit direct contact with your phone

A smart phone showing an image of water on the home screen.

Cell Phones:

Most of us aren’t willing to give up on using our smart phones and at this stage, it hardly seems practical. We can still take measures to use them more safely. The Vienna Medical Association decided the radiation from mobile/smart phones was most likely not as safe as cell phone providers claimed it to beand released Medical Rules for a Safer Use of Mobile Phones! to the public. Most of those Rules are listed below. Use them to lessen the sleep and health effects of EMF exposure:

  • Keep calls short, and few. Use a landline or write an SMS. Children & Teens under 16—should carry phones for emergency use only.
  • Keep the phone away from your body & head during dialing and maintain a distance. Take advantage of the speakerphone feature or use a headset.
  • Do not keep the phone directly on your body when using a headset or the speakerphone. If there’s no other option, use an outer coat pocket or handbag.
  • Do not use the phone in vehicles (cars, buses, trains) without an external antenna *Radiation inside the vehicle is higher.
  • At home or work, use a hardwired connection. Avoid cordless phones, Wi-Fi access points, data sticks and LTE modems,
  • Work offline more often or put the phone in airplane mode. *Many functions do not require an Internet connection (i.e.: music, camera, alarm clock, offline games...)
  • Minimize the number of apps and disable unnecessary services. *Disabling “mobile services”/”data network mode” turns your smart phone into a conventional mobile.
  • Don’t place calls from locations with poor reception. *In such instances, it increases the transmission power.
A modern black & white themed kitchen with modern appliances
Any appliance that communicates wirelessly, or manipulates the normal AC electricity is sending out RF radiation

Appliances:

In a world where many are physically and emotionally over-extended, who doesn’t want easy? Pre-heating the oven or starting the laundry remotely is Jetsons-style cool, but… those pesky EMFs!!  Trouble is any appliance that can communicate wirelessly, or manipulates the normal AC electricity, is sending out RF radiation.

All appliances working on electricity produce a toxic electromagnetic field (EMF) of approximately 60 hertz. You can avoid excessive exposure, by limiting time standing in front of your electric stove or oven when you're using it.

The frequency inside your microwave is about 2.45 BILLION hertz. This creates a health hazard when the door seals start to leak as the user is exposed to more radiation. The frequency shown to be harmful to the human body starts at 10 hertz.

Gadgets & Smart Home tech:

Smart technology from the office has followed most of us home—smart desks, multi-device keyboards, wireless this, wireless that. Here it joins our smart fitness trackers, smart appliances, smart thermostats, smart security systems and voice-based AI assistants like Alexa. All emitting EMF radiation… anyone else feel surrounded?

Lighting:

Aside from the electric bill consideration, should you really have to think much about turning on a light, or dimming the switch? Apparently, you must. All lighting circuits connected to a building’s main electricity panel create electric fields that are active all the time—even when the lights aren’t on.

Using a screened cable will greatly reduce these electric fields in most single homes, but multi-unit buildings create extra challenges. The type of bulbs you use are key as well—do your research and consider healthier choices.

Smart Meters

According to a government website, Smart Meters enable a utility to provide customers with detailed information about their energy usage at different times of the day, which in turn enables customers to manage their energy use more proactively. 

On the other hand, the customer may not be the only one viewing that data. Privacy concerns among smart meter critics, cite dangers of a household's data being transmitted to a supplier. Saving money is a concern, though the privacy issue concerns me more. What I found more disturbing is this tidbit in an article from Dr Amy Myers…

“The US safety limit for RF radiation is 1,000 micro-watts per meter, squared. However, it’s not uncommon for some smart meters to produce up to 60 times this amount.

Scary Math!

That means the radiation from smart meters is equivalent to the output of 160 wireless devices such as cell phones. And smart meters are continuously transmitting data and producing RF radiation in and around your home. So there you go. Dealing with this one radiation source dramatically decreases your EMF exposure. How do you do that?

Stay a minimum of 10-feet (20' is better) away—RF emissions drop dramatically the further you distance yourself.

You can block 90-95% of the radiation with a metallic mesh screen made of highly conductive metal.

Double Trouble

Smart meters create two different types of EMF Radiation in the home. First, they emit RF Radiation. Secondly, they cause each circuit in your home to radiate Dirty Electricity from the electrical wiring throughout the walls of the building.

EMFs in your bedroom

The American Sleep Association shows the number of Americans with sleep disorders at a staggering 70 million. 30% of those, experience some form of Insomnia. Studies show lack of sleep, restless sleep, interrupted sleep, all lead to the same results—poor moods, depression, reduced cognitive function and compromised immune systems.

The complex biological process of sleep is critical to maintaining a healthy mind and body. EMFs short-circuit that process. Electro-biological research of sleep showed that nighttime EMF exposure has more severe effects on health compared to EMF radiation during the day. It further showed that poor sleep reduces longevity by 10-15 years. This is in addition to a range of lack-of-sleep effects including stress, irritability, depression, reduced cognitive function, and a host of chronic diseases. It’s safe to say the importance of sleep can’t be overstated.

We must understand the role EMFs play in the bedroom so we can begin to minimize the effects EMF exposure has on our sleep. Along with the usual suspects (cell phones, tablets, TVs…) these EMF devices may also be found in bedrooms. Make sure they aren't preventing you from getting the sleep you need:

  • Baby Monitor
  • Circuit Breaker
  • Electric Bedside Clock
  • Electric Blanket
  • Exercise equipment
  • Fans
  • Heating Pad
  • Mobile phone charger
  • Wireless speakers

Some EMF sources may be external, like a smart meter right outside your bedroom, nearby cell towers or power lines—or even a neighbor’s strong EMF field. You’ll have an easier time falling asleep and staying asleep when you limit EMF Exposure.

Close up in black and white of the tear-streaked face of a depressed young woman.
The loss of sleep resulting from EMF exposure can lead to debilitating depression and a host of physical ailments

How EMFs affect our ability to get a good night’s sleep

It’s time we take our sleep seriously. When something is threatening our ability to get quality sleep, it’s time to take that thing seriously as well. Here are some ways EMFs directly affect the body’s electrical and biochemical responses to disrupt sleep

EMFs create a hormone imbalance

The pineal gland interprets radiation as light; EMF exposure therefore interferes with the body’s natural ability to create thesleep hormonemelatonin. Melatonin is essential to sleep regulation. When triggered by darkness it signals the body’s chronological time clock. A confused internal clock will always cause your sleep to be irregular.

EMFs disrupt sleep rhythms

Sleeping in close proximity to radiation-emitting devices disrupts circadian rhythms which can cause frequent awakenings. You may also experience Insomnia, difficulty waking up in the morning, excessive tiredness during the day, an inability to focus, and depression.

A battery-operated alarm clock will help keep your bedroom sleep-friendly

Close up of a battery-operated alarm clock with bells on the sides.

Use these Tips for Better Sleep

  • Switch to a battery-operated alarm clock.
  • Turn your cell phone off at night—especially if it’s by your head or on the nightstand
  • Don’t charge your electronic devices on your bedside table.
  • Don’t wear watches to bed
  • Don’t wear sleep monitors to bed without a doctor's request
  • Unplug unnecessary lamps or cable boxes
  • Move all electronics at least 6-feet away from your bed
  • Place your bed on a wall that doesn’t have a refrigerator, circuit breaker, or electric meter behind it.
  • Use EMF Mitigating devices to protect yourself from harmful radiation

The effects of EMF exposure on our health

While you can’t see it, hear it, smell it or taste it, you will eventually feel the effects of EMF exposure. The human body is electrified by nature, which means it's quite sensitive to environmental EMF radiation. Health issues suspected to occur from low-level exposure to EMFs have become wide-ranging. Reported symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Burning sensation
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Focus issues
  • Mood changes
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Obesity
  • Tinnitus
  • Vertigo

A review from the National Library of Medicine links EMF exposure to some cancers and neurogenerative diseases. In addition, it showed RF radiation increases Male Infertility and Neurobehavioral disorders. These disorders encompass a group of conditions associated with brain impairment. The conditions include ADHD, Autism, Dementia and OCD.

Close up of a troubled young boy.

Children are more susceptible and more likely to become ill from electromagnetic toxins

Children are more vulnerable to environmental electromagnetic toxins. This is attributed to their thin skin and having higher water content in their tissues. Those who live near high EMF locations (such as radio towers and high voltage power lines,) are more likely to become ill and reflect a higher incidence of childhood cancers.

How to deal with EMFs

We Can No Longer Assume our Wireless Technology is Safe. However, there are products and resources, which can help us mitigate the effects of EMF exposure, Start addressing this issue before you find your life turned upside down. These are good first steps:

  • Measure EMF readings in your home—this guide will walk you through—or there are professional services you can hire
  • Use a Smart Meter "Guard"
  • Avoid holding your phone when streaming or downloading media
  • Turn electronics off when you're not using them
  • Reduce Wi-Fi radiation by 50% with a Router Guard
  • Use fewer apps on your devices
  • Increase your brain’s production of Melatonin with Blue-Light-Blocking glasses
  • Make sleep and safety a priority

There are lots of resources out there if you enjoy exploring. If you’re looking to get everything from study data—to How-To’s—and product recommendations in one place, Jeromy Johnson's website is a great place to begin. He’s Electrically Sensitive himself and has the tools to help you quickly reduce your EMF exposure.

Graphic elements depicting electromagnetic pollution.
We're surrounded by electromagnetic pollution 24/7it's up to us to limit the negative effects it has on our sleep and health

All the evidence we need

The recently updated BioInitiative 2012 Report prepared by 29 authors from ten countries, confirms what we've been covering. The group is made up of 10 MDs, 21PhDs and 3 MSc, MS or MPHs—which includes three former presidents of the Bioelectromagnetic Society.

The report provides EMF studies specific to Genetic Effects, Neurological Effects and Free Radical Damage. It confirms we have all the evidence we need to prove environmental EMF exposure can interfere with biological processes in the human body.

Start practicing safer use of your devices and appliances today for better sleep and better health.

If you’re Electrosensitive or concerned about EMFs and are exploring our earbuds for sleep, rest easy! SoundOff sleep earbuds are EMF-Free. No App, No Bluetooth—so you can block out snoring and other disruptive noise without ever having to worry about radiation exposure.Give SoundOff a try. You’ll love what you can’t hear!

Until the next post...

stay informed, stay safe, and Sleep Well!

Links for further information on EMF Exposure and how it affects our sleep and health:

EMF Refugee Stories:

On Jeromy’s EMF Refugee page, you’ll find stories from real people who will give you a clearer picture of what it’s like to live with EHS. Here are examples from two of those stories:

  • An IT business owner changed from working at home to working remotely from a van. Life is good now that he’s no longer “connected” 24/7.
  • A Nokia CTO had his health destroyed by cell phone radiation. He reminds us that a person can use a cell phone responsibly.

Everyday people share their personal health issues attributed to EMF Effects of Smart Meters

A Link to the 5G Summit:

5G Studies:

Environmental Health Trust

Radiation Health Risks

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