Effects of short- and long-term pulsed radiofrequency electromagnetic fields on night sleep and cognitive functions in healthy subjects

Bioelectromagnetics. 2007 May;28(4):316-25. doi: 10.1002/bem.20301.


There has been wide public discussion on whether the electromagnetic fields of mobile telephones and their base stations affect human sleep or cognitive functioning. As there is evidence for learning and memory-consolidating effects of sleep and particularly of REM sleep, disturbance of sleep by radiofrequency electromagnetic fields might also impair cognitive functions. Previously realized sleep studies yielded inconsistent results regarding short-term exposure. Moreover, data are lacking on the effect that short- and long-term exposure might have on sleep as well as on cognitive functions. Therefore, 10 healthy young male subjects were included and nocturnal sleep was recorded during eight consecutive nights. In the second, third, and last night, we investigated polysomnographic night sleep and cognitive functions. After the adaptation and baseline nights, the participants were exposed to a defined radiofrequency electromagnetic field during the following six nights. We analyzed polysomnographic night sleep according to Rechtschaffen and Kales [1968, Manual of Standardized Terminology, Techniques and Scoring System for Sleep of Human Subjects] as well as by power spectra and correlation dimension. Cognitive functions were investigated by an array of neuropsychological tests. Data analysis was done by comparing the baseline night with the first and last exposure night and the first two sleep cycles of the respective nights. We did not find significant effects, either on conventional sleep parameters or on power spectra and correlation dimension, nor were there any significant effects on cognitive functions. With our results, we are unable to reveal either short-term or cumulative long-term effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields on night sleep and cognitive functions in healthy young male subjects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cell Phone
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Radio Waves / adverse effects*
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep, REM / physiology