Do mobile phone base stations affect sleep of residents? Results from an experimental double-blind sham-controlled field study

Authors

  • Heidi Danker-Hopfe,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Sleep Medicine Competence Center, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Berlin, Germany
    • Competence Center ofSleep Medicine and Sleep Research, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité, Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Eschenallee 3, Berlin 14050, Germany
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  • Hans Dorn,

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Sleep Medicine Competence Center, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Berlin, Germany
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  • Christian Bornkessel,

    1. EMC Test and Dosimetry Laboratory, IMST GmbH, Kamp-Lintfort, Germany
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  • Cornelia Sauter

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Sleep Medicine Competence Center, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Berlin, Germany
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Abstract

Objectives:

The aim of the present double-blind, sham-controlled, balanced randomized cross-over study was to disentangle effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF) and non-EMF effects of mobile phone base stations on objective and subjective sleep quality.

Methods:

In total 397 residents aged 18–81 years (50.9% female) from 10 German sites, where no mobile phone service was available, were exposed to sham and GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications, 900 MHz and 1,800 MHz) base station signals by an experimental base station while their sleep was monitored at their homes during 12 nights. Participants were randomly exposed to real (GSM) or sham exposure for five nights each. Individual measurement of EMF exposure, questionnaires on sleep disorders, overall sleep quality, attitude towards mobile communication, and on subjective sleep quality (morning and evening protocols) as well as objective sleep data (frontal EEG and EOG recordings) were gathered.

Results:

Analysis of the subjective and objective sleep data did not reveal any significant differences between the real and sham condition. During sham exposure nights, objective and subjective sleep efficiency, wake after sleep onset, and subjective sleep latency were significantly worse in participants with concerns about possible health risks resulting from base stations than in participants who were not concerned.

Conclusions:

The study did not provide any evidence for short-term physiological effects of EMF emitted by mobile phone base stations on objective and subjective sleep quality. However, the results indicate that mobile phone base stations as such (not the electromagnetic fields) may have a significant negative impact on sleep quality. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 22:613–618, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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