The Real Reason You Need To Stop Using Your Phone In The Bathroom

No one wants to envision themselves chatting away with a friend, while said friend is sitting on the throne. There's just one problem: As many as 90 percent of us use our phones in the bathroom, according to a poll by Verizon Wireless (via CBS Detroit). That means you've almost certainly been on the receiving end of that situation — and are probably guilty of doing it yourself.

As long as you're not on FaceTime or Zoom, you might think, "What's the big deal?" But there is a very big deal: A risk of hemorrhoids (nope, not kidding). Whether you're talking, scrolling the news, or browsing Facebook, using your phone encourages you to spend more time in the bathroom. And when you do, "you're putting unnecessary pressure on the rectum, [which] can cause hemorrhoids, and definitely make any pre-existing hemorrhoids way worse," Dr. Partha Nandi explains to Thrillist. He adds that prolonging this pressure on your bum also can cause gastrointestinal issues, and recommends you get the deed over with as quickly as possible.

Germs lurk in the loo

You probably know that bathrooms aren't the cleanest, but there's a lot more ickiness going on than you may realize. In fact, a study from the Hygiene Council found that the average toilet bowl has 3.2 million bacteria per square inch, while a bathroom faucet handle has 6,267 and a toilet seat has 295 (via CBS News).

With this info in mind, it makes sense that exposure to all of these bacteria would easily make your phone pretty germy. Just like those surfaces, your phone will pick up bad things, including fecal matter, which are released into the air when you go, explains microbiologist Charles Gerba in Health. What's more, you're handling your phone before you have a chance to wash your hands, transferring even more germs. "Because people are always carrying their cell phones, even in situations where they would normally wash their hands before doing anything, cell phones tend to get pretty gross," says Emily Martin, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health tells Time.

Ron Cutler, director of biomedical science degrees at Queen Mary's University London, sums it up to Fox News: "Basically, you just shouldn't [take your phone into the toilet] if you are at all concerned about the transfer of viruses and fecal contamination." It's probably a good idea to grab a disinfectant wipe and clean your phone immediately!

You'll be happier with a social media break

As many as 70 percent of Americans use social media daily, according to the Pew Research Center. For many of us, the thought of putting our phones down can send us into a FOMO panic — and sometimes even give us a feeling of social media withdrawal. But constantly keeping up with family, friends, and our favorite celebrities is taking a toll on our moods. 

A new study in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology found that participants who limited their social media use experienced better mental health. "What we found overall is that if you use less social media, you are actually less depressed and less lonely, meaning that the decreased social media use is what causes that qualitative shift in your well-being," said Jordyn Young, a co-author of the paper and a senior at the University of Pennsylvania, via Healthline.

The good news is that all it takes is cutting back just a bit on social media use — you don't even need to go cold turkey. "We didn't think [complete abstinence] was an accurate representation of the landscape of the world that we live in today. Social media is around us in so many capacities," Young said. What's more, it didn't matter how much time people were initially spending online. Whatever the total amount, any reduction produced the same mood benefits.

You'll enjoy a better night's rest

Your phone has a secret: The blue light it emits messes with your circadian rhythms — an internal body clock that regulates sleep patterns, per the National Sleep Foundation. So, when you're in the bathroom at night getting ready for bed, keeping your phone with you can prevent your brain from getting into sleep mode.

In fact, people who used their phones (or computers and e-tablets) before bedtime took an average of 10 minutes longer to fall asleep, according to Harvard researchers (via Psychology Today). Plus, it suppressed their levels of the sleep hormone melatonin and minimized their amount of REM sleep, the deep, restorative kind needed to help you feel alert the next morning. Their conclusion? Just putting away your phone and other electronics an hour or two before bed can help you get the rest you need to tackle your day.

There you have it. Simply putting your phone down for potty breaks can improve your head-to-toe health.