Tracked and self-reported nighttime smartphone use, general health, and healthcare utilization: results from the SmartSleep Study

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STUDY OBJECTIVES: Nighttime smartphone use is an increasing public health concern. We investigated whether nighttime smartphone use is associated with general health and primary healthcare utilization.

METHODS: 4,520 individuals (age 35.6 ± 9.7 years, 35% male) provided self-reported information on smartphone use frequency, symptoms of depression, and general health (one-item perceived health and cross-symptom composite score). A subset of the study sample (n=3,221) tracked their nighttime smartphone use. Primary healthcare utilization, i.e., the number of weeks in which at least one service from the patient's general practitioner was billed in 2020, was extracted from Danish population registries. Statistical analysis comprised logistic and multiple linear regression, controlling for sociodemographics.

RESULTS: 319 individuals (7%) reported using their smartphone almost every night or more. More frequent self-reported nighttime smartphone use was associated with poor general health across all measures. Using the smartphone almost every night or more was associated with 2.8 [95CI: 1.9,4.1] fold higher odds of reporting poor health and with an average of 1.4 [95CI: 0.7,2.1] additional GP utilizations per year compared to no use. Associations were also found for the cross-symptom composite score across all symptoms. Further adjustment for symptoms of depression attenuated some associations. Smartphone use towards the end of the sleep period (sleep-offset use) was associated with poorer self-reported general health, but not with healthcare utilization.

CONCLUSION: Nighttime smartphone use frequency is associated with poor general health and healthcare utilization. Further studies should investigate the underlying causal structure and nighttime smartphone use as a transdiagnostic intervention target.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number6
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2024. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Sleep Research Society. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:

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