Checking your mobile device one last time before turning in for the night can be a good idea – and pretty much expected in today’s society. After all, tending to the business of life makes you feel organized, which then relaxes your body and prepares your mind for a good night’s sleep. With everything in place for the next day, it’s then easy to tuck your phone away on a charging station outside your bedroom and tuck yourself in between the sheets.
If this scenario resonates with you, congratulations. You’re doing tech right.
Now, for the rest of us.
If your head nestles onto a pillow just as your phone hits the nightstand, you’re not alone. The need for constant connectivity has 71 percent of us slumbering next to our phones, and some people actually nodding off with phones in hand, according to a 2015 report released by Bank of America. But who can really blame us? Our phones get us through the busy day – they’ve become a natural extension of our fingertips. The thought of leaving the device in another room actually feels debilitating.
So we keep it close by and check world news when needed, answer texts and emails, read articles, update our social media channels and, of course, play a few rounds of TwoDots.
What’s the real problem?
Technology, as it turns out, can really mess with our sleep.
Results from a study done by The National Sleep Foundation found that 95 percent of electronic users are engaged with their cell phones at least a few nights a week within one hour of going to bed. This is a problem because it then makes it difficult for our bodies to reverse the stimulation when our brains say it’s time to fall asleep. In addition, the blue light on cell phones suppresses melatonin, the sleep-promoting hormone that helps us fall – and stay – asleep. And, who are we kidding – all those dings and chimes alerting us to new content, updates and messages is enough to send us into hypervigilance mode. Not exactly what the doctor orders when it comes to unwinding before bedtime.
Some simple solutions
While technology tremendously helps us navigate the day, it’s wreaking havoc on us at night. In honor of National Sleep Awareness Week, which takes place March 6 – 13, 2016, Health Net wants to help you tackle the tech invading your bedroom. The following three tips are a good place to start to break the habit of sleeping so close to those electronic devices.
- Get a real alarm clock. Los Angeles-based lifestyle-tech specialist Carley Knobloch suggests setting a stand-alone alarm clock instead of your cell phone alarm. This way, you’re not relying on your phone to wake you up in the morning, which means it can live outside the bedroom the whole night through. Plus, you’re better able to control the sounds that come from an alarm clock versus a cell phone.
- Take the TV and tablets out of the bedroom. The noise and flickering lights are not conducive to a restful night’s sleep. Remove this distraction and you’re likely to strengthen the mental association between bed and sleep.
- Create a ritual before bed. Your ritual actually can include checking social media, listening to music and catching up on an episode of your favorite show, but the key here is making sure everything is turned off at least 30 minutes before you get into bed.
National Sleep Awareness week starts on Sunday, March 6 – the perfect day of the week to start something new. Take the challenge for the next seven days and see if you can readjust your sleep habits. Ditching the constant connection in the bedroom just might send you into deeper relaxation, which can lead to more beneficial sleep and, ultimately, greater productivity the next day.