Sleep under exposure to high-frequency electromagnetic fields

Sleep Med Rev. 2004 Apr;8(2):95-107. doi: 10.1016/S1087-0792(03)00004-2.


The controversy about potential health hazards associated with the exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) has been recently stimulated by the increasing use of mobile telecommunication devices. Attention has focused here on non-thermal effects of low-level high-frequency radiation, which does not lead to a heating of tissue. Scientific literature on the effects of high-frequency EMFs on sleep is reviewed. The epidemiological studies provide no evidence that sleep disturbances are a relevant complaint under exposure to such fields. Recent sleep laboratory studies have revealed a number of slight effects. Despite their heterogeneity, there seems to be some consistency regarding a slight sleep-promoting effect and an increase of the alpha power of the sleep EEG induced by high-frequency EMFs. However, for both the epidemiological and sleep laboratory studies, the database concerning sleep is up to now very limited. At the present level of knowledge, no final conclusions can be drawn from the available data concerning potential health hazards. Although there seem to be some biological effects, these do not provide evidence for any adverse health consequences. However, further research is needed for a better understanding of the interaction between EMFs and the sleep process.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Membrane / physiology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Hazardous Substances
  • Humans
  • Polysomnography
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology*


  • Hazardous Substances