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Your Ultimate Guide to How Your Smartphone affects your Brainwaves

Updated: Aug 4, 2021

Let's start by looking at what type of brainwaves there are and what they mean.

  • Delta Waves – deep/dreamless sleep.

  • Theta Waves – dreaming sleep (REM), this is the goal for meditation

  • Alpha Waves – relaxed, daydreaming and watching TV

  • Beta Waves – the awake engaged state

  • Gamma Waves – hyper alert, good for insights and higher learning

Leading psychologists have likened smartphone addiction to an impulse control disorder, which is characterised by failure to resist a temptation.

More shocking than addiction is the finding that the overuse of smartphones even cause a chemical imbalances. Sung Suk Seo, a neuroradiology professor found that teenagers addicted to their smartphones showed an elevated level of GABA. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps to regulate anxiety. Elevated GABA impairs rational thinking and reduces motivation; resulting in a state of constant anxiety and stress, contributing to aggression and depression.

Theta waves are the site of GABA release. Theta waves are allow us to experience and feel deep/raw emotions, therefore too much theta activity may make people prone to bouts of depression.

Looking at your phone first thing in the morning sets you up for a stressful morning/day. You will see all the things you missed yesterday whilst scrolling through social media or seeing the messages you missed. Then you're already on the back foot, unable to prioritise for the day ahead.

Julie Morgenstern, author of the book Never Check Email In The Morning, says

It's hard to go from your transactional, shallow part of your brain, the frontal cortex, to the other parts of your brain where strategy happens and relationships happen.

Basically, when you check your emails or social as soon as you wake up your brain goes all over the place. This will leave you feeling unmotivated and overwhelmed before you've even started your day.

Has this inspired you to change your morning routine? Check out the blog post on 'Levelling Up your Morning Routine'


  1. Bergland, Christopher. Alpha Brain Waves Boost Creativity and Reduce Depression. Psychology Today. Web.

  2. Demirci. Kadir, Akgonul. Mehmet, Akpinar. Abdullah. Relationship of smartphone use severity with sleep quality, depression, and anxiety in university students. Department of Psychiatry, Research and Training Hospital, School of Medicine, Süleyman Demirel University, Isparta, Turkey.

  3. Fleming, Kevin Charles. “Even Apple Investors Are Worried About Smartphone Addiction.” Pacific Standard. N.p., 11 Jan. 2018. Web.

  4. “Impulse Control Disorder.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 18 Feb. 2018. Web

  5. Kwon M, Lee J-Y, Won W-Y, Park J-W, Min J-A, Hahn C, et al. (2013) Development and Validation of a Smartphone Addiction Scale (SAS).

  6. Lydiard RB. The role of GABA in anxiety disorders. J Clin Psychiatry. 2003;64 Suppl 3:21-7. Review.

  7. Radiological Society of North America. “Smartphone addiction creates imbalance in brain, study suggests.” ScienceDaily.

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