In this post we will take a look at the “modern curse” of sleep issues, as we investigate the following questions:
- Is there historical evidence for EMFs and sleep disturbance?
- Is household wiring a source of sleep disturbance?
- Can you become sensitised to EMFs, similar to allergy?
- Do non-ironising (non-thermal) radiations – such as mobile phones and WIFI – have biological effects that can disturb sleep?
- Do EMFs reduce your body’s production of the sleep hormone, melatonin?
Actually sleep issues are not a modern curse but have been a symptom of exposure to electromagnetic fields since at least 1790 according to the research of Arthur Firstenberg, author of The Invisible Rainbow: A History of Electricity and Life.
In the 19th Century Ernest Onimus described the affliction of workers in Paris in the 1870s who were exposed to the EMFs of the telegraph machine:
These patients suffered from heart palpitations, dizziness, insomnia, weakened eyesight, and a feeling “as though a vice were gripping the back of their head.” They suffered from exhaustion, depression, and memory loss, and after some years of work a few descended into insanity.
And in 1903 Dr. E. Cronbach in Berlin gave case histories for seventeen of his telegraphist patients:
Six had either excessive perspiration or extreme dryness of hands, feet, or body. Five had insomnia. Five had deteriorating eyesight. Five had tremors of the tongue. Four had lost a degree of their hearing. Three had irregular heartbeats. Ten were nervous and irritable both at work and at home.
Here is an extract from a more recent study from Arthur Firstenberg’s book – notice the mention of insomnia:
In 2014, Japanese physician Tetsuharu Shinjyo published a before-and-after study that is a harbinger of the direction in which the world needs to go. He evaluated the health of the residents of an apartment building in Okinawa, upon whose roof cell phone antennas had been operating for a number of years. One hundred and twenty-two individuals, representing 39 of the 47 apartments, were interviewed and examined. Prior to the removal of the antennas, 21 people suffered from chronic fatigue; 14 from dizziness, vertigo, or Ménière’s disease; 14 from headaches; 17 from eye pain, dry eyes, or repeated eye infections; 14 from insomnia; 10 from chronic nosebleeds. Five months after the antennas were removed, no one in the building had chronic fatigue. No one had nosebleeds any more. No one had eye problems. Only two people still had insomnia. One still had dizziness. One still had headaches. Cases of gastritis and glaucoma resolved. Like the residents of that building before the study, the majority of the people in the world today do not know that their acute and chronic illnesses are in large part caused by electromagnetic pollution. They do not talk to each other about their health problems, and are unaware that they are shared by many of their neighbors.
And here is a study that shows Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) electricity negatively affected sleep. Note that that the exposure level was lower than occupational permissible limits as defined by ICNIRP. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3561068/
House Wiring – ELF Radiation
Extremely Low Frequency radiation is usually defined in the range of 0.5–300 hertz, and the UK mains frequency of 50 hz falls into this bracket. The following short video shows the body voltage measurement of a person in a typical sleeping area. Bear in mind that, even when there are no electrical devices or lights turned on, the household wiring – particularly in the floor space – is active and transmitting a voltage signal into the sleeping area above at a frequency of 50 hertz (cycles per second).
So there is a voltage on your skin oscillating at 50 times a second while your are trying to sleep. When asleep your brain waves are supposed to be below 13 cycles per second (alpha, theta and delta waves). Can this 50 cycles per second electrical signal on your skin affect your brain’s electrical frequency in a negative way? Frequencies in the audio range can be used to slow down or speed up our brain waves through techniques such as binaural rhythms. So there is science to show that our brain waves can be brought into sync with an external frequency.
An important point surfaces here: I am not suggesting that an AC signal of 50 hertz on your skin will force your brain into sync with this. However I am suggesting it will be a factor of disturbance. Will it be a 5% factor of disturbance for you? Will it be 10% or 20%, or perhaps 50%? It depends entirely on your biology. An increasing number of the population are becoming sensitised to these artificial frequencies. What do I mean when I say sensitised?
In healthy individuals, when the immune system registers a substance as a threat, B cells, a type of white blood cell, produce antibodies. This is a process known as sensitisation and is part of the normal immune response.
Mobile Phone, Radio, and WIFI
The following is an excerpt from a peer-reviewed paper published by Elsevier, by Professor M.L. Pall:
Among the more commonly reported changes [of EMFs] are sleep disturbance/insomnia, headache, depression/depressive symptoms, fatigue/tiredness, dysesthesia, concentration/attention dysfunction, memory changes, dizziness, irritability, loss of appetite/body weight, restlessness/anxiety, nausea, skin burning/tingling/dermographism and EEG changes. In summary, then, the mechanism of action of microwave EMFs, the role of the VGCCs in the brain, the impact of non-thermal EMFs on the brain, extensive epidemiological studies performed over the past 50 years, and five criteria testing for causality, all collectively show that various non-thermal microwave EMF exposures produce diverse neuropsychiatric effects.
Melatonin – the Sleep Hormone
Another EMF-related cause of poor sleep could be due to their effects on the sleep hormone, melatonin. It has been seen in a number of studies that electromagnetic fields reduce the ability of the pineal gland to produce this vital sleep and detox hormone.
It is note-worthy that melatonin is one of the body’s main antioxidant and detox hormone – not just sleep hormone. Melatonin is important in the proper function of the oesophagus sphincter and lack of melatonin can result in acid reflux, AKA Gerd. It also plays a significant role in the immune system.
The following video explains how melatonin production is affected by EMFs, leading to “almost conclusive” evidence that this is a big factor in poor sleep for at least a percentage of the population.
In the following study on workers who repaired electronic equipment it was found:
The electronic equipment repairers, exposed to ELF-EMF, are at a risk of oxidative stress and sleep insufficiency, which could be explained by lower plasma melatonin levels and higher MDA levels. Health education about the hazards of ELF-EMF, shortening of exposure time per day, and taking antioxidant vitamins should be done to ameliorate the oxidative effect of EMF on those workers.
Bear in mind that if you work on a computer all day you could well fall into a similar category as the workers in the above study. I have personally measured an electric field of over 1,000 V/m coming from my laptop when it is on charge.
So how do we go about addressing our exposure to these EMFs discussed above? What can we do about it?
Firstly it’s a good thing to identify and quantify exactly what it is you are being exposed to on a regular basis.
Successful remedies will take into consideration the following factors: Time; Duration of Effect; Distance from Source; Removal or Shielding. I address these issues in the post Reduce Your EMF Exposure.