Sleep hygiene refers to recommended practices or habits that help promote a good night’s sleep. This usually means staying far, far away from our much-loved digital devices – that’s right, our laptops, smartphones, and all those other gadgets that emit sleep hindering blue light at night. That’s because research has shown that melatonin, the hormone that’s responsible for controlling our sleep-wake cycles, is suppressed by nighttime exposure to light.
The truth is, technology is changing the way we sleep. Whether it’s interrupting our bedtime routine, keeping us up at night, or forcing us to wake up on the wrong side of the bed, its negative effects are well documented.
But, in this brave new world of technology here, there and everywhere, is it possible to use our devices in a way that helps, rather than harms, our ZZZs? Maybe. Here’s how…
TIP #1: LIMIT SCREEN TIME BEFORE BED.
We’ve all heard it before. Avoid your devices in the hour or so leading up to bedtime. Whether you’re scrolling through your feed or catching up on work emails, you may be unknowingly causing yourself stress (an emotion that is often to blame for all that tossing and turning at night). And, as noted above, blue light causes sleeplessness. This means your bedtime routine should include shutting off all screens.
THE NEXT BEST THING
We get it — sometimes it’s just not possible to disconnect. Maybe you’re waiting for an important message from a friend or colleague. Maybe seeing what’s up on social media is how you unwind at the end of a long day. So if you aren’t able to completely cut your devices out of your bedtime routine, here are a couple of ways to make technology work for you:
- If you tend to get some of your best work done at night, use f.lux or the night shift mode on your laptop or computer to avoid the blue light. Why? Because the blue light tricks our brains into thinking it’s sunlight, making it that much harder to fall asleep.
- If you like to snuggle up with a good book to your phone before bed, try changing what sort of media you are consuming by downloading a reading app or doing some pre-bedtime hypnosis or meditation.
TIP #2: DON’T BRING YOUR PHONE INTO THE BEDROOM
Make it a rule to leave your phone somewhere other than your room during the night. Not only is this rule great for your sleep, it’s good for your relationship too! Did you know that, for many people, the last thing they touch before falling asleep is their phone… and not their partner?
THE NEXT BEST THING
Okay, but what if your phone is also your alarm clock? Well, you could go out and buy yourself a good old-fashioned clock… with an alarm on it…. but if that’s too old-school for you, you can use your phone to your benefit with these highly rated sleep-aid apps.
Sleep Cycle, for example, tracks your sleep patterns, and can actually wake you at a time when you’ll feel less groggy. (How’s that for an alarm clock?!). Pzizz, on the other hand, uses clinically proven hypnosis and progressive relaxation techniques, in combination with acoustic sounds they call “Dreamscapes,” to help improve sleep quality. (You can check out Pzizz in our marketplace!). For the full list of “best insomnia apps,” click here.
TIP #3: AIRPLANE MODE TO THE RESCUE!
Turn on “Do not disturb” or airplane mode so that you aren’t waking up to annoying dings and dongs all night long. You can even program your android phone to automatically turn on and off during your usual sleep windows.
THE NEXT BEST THING
Okay, but what if you need the ringer on in the event of a middle-of-the-night emergency? Whether it’s aging parents, a friend who is unwell, or a teen who is out past curfew, there are a number of reasons why we might need our phones to ring in the night.
What we don’t need in the middle of the night? Internet browsing. If you find yourself tempted to check out your Instagram feed when you wake in the night for a glass of water or a bathroom visit, the Flip’d app may solve your problem. It will actually lock you out of your phone during a designated time period — in your case, overnight!
LET TECHNOLOGY HELP — NOT HARM — YOUR SLEEP
Did you know that over 50% of Americans suffer from sleep problems? And poor sleep has been linked to a myriad of health conditions, including diabetes, stroke and heart attack. Not to mention, the later we stay up, the more we tend to eat — which is why not getting enough sleep can lead to obesity.
Ironically, staying up late to be get some extra work done can result in lowered productivity. So if you’re burning the midnight oil to meet a deadline, give yourself a break and get some sleep.
We know it can be tough to disconnect. That’s why we’ve shared some tech-friendly tips to getting a better night’s sleep. Because, at the end of the day, it’s whether or not you get enough sleep (not how you do it) that’s critical to your health and wellbeing.