We all have those strange moments where we feel or imagine something is there, but it’s not. Think of the sensation you feel after you remove a hat you’ve been wearing all day – even after a few hours of taking off your hat, you still feel like you’re wearing it. It’s no joke, it’s actually called ‘Still Wearing a Hat Syndrome’ (SWAHS) and can be experienced from time to time.

If you’ve never experienced SWAHS, you might have experienced Phantom Vibration Syndrome – a sensation fuelled by psychological and physiological stimuli to make phone users preempt or imagine that a phone call or message is coming through on their smartphones. It’s quite an odd syndrome but can affect users who are constantly attached to their phone.

And who isn’t, right? We’re all waiting for that job interview email, a WhatsApp catch up from our mates or even a news update on our favourite media topics. But how does Phantom Vibration Syndrome control our lives?

Why It Feels Like Your Phone Is Vibrating In Your Pocket When It Isn’t?

There is a scientific explanation for this; Robert Rosenberger, PhD; a researcher on technology’s impact on our lives at the Georgia Institute of Technology comments that detecting vibrations from our phones has become a habit. This feeling of an incoming call is triggered by the slightest muscle twitch or friction in our clothing that generates that ‘vibration’ sensation.

Some of us are so concerned that we’re going to miss a call or notification that we become so aware of the feeling; sometimes inducing the sensation. A standard case of modern day FOMO, ‘Fear Of Missing Out’. In fact, Dr Reosenberger conducted a study that shows 90% of smartphone users (who took part in his study) claimed to have felt this syndrome.

This is not a new phenomenon related to technology and placebo effects, in the 1990s, people reported ‘hallucinations’ labelled ‘Phantom Pager Syndrome’. The sensation has just transferred to smartphone technology; and due to its constant use in our lifestyle, it has more probably increased in frequency and maybe even intensity. Previously, this stress-inducing syndrome was aptly called ‘ringxiety’.

Is Phantom Vibration Syndrome real?

Many begin to wonder if Phantom Vibration Syndrome is real. Well the sensation is real, the feeling is real, the actual income of calls is however not. It’s not a premeditated indication that you’ll soon be receiving a call. It’s simply a vibration that our bodies have grown accustomed to and trigger every now and then.

While Phantom Vibration Syndrome is not harmful, it can be quite annoying and disrupting to our routines. Finding ways to cut down on your smartphone usage and screen time in general could have great effects on our mental and physical health.

Smartphone technology is unavoidable in our modern life, we need to be connected. It’s a 24/7 type of dependency we’re banking on here and most of us may find it hard to cut ties with our iPhone or Android device. Be sure to balance your screen time with off-screen moments, and take ample breaks throughout the day.