A 2014 poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that up to 90% of Americans use a light-emitting electronic device before bedtime. Exposing our eyes to the LED lights emitted from electronics suppresses our bodies’ production of the sleep hormone melatonin, making it harder for us to fall asleep. Even if we are still able to get 8-9 hours of sleep, the quality of sleep may be affected. A recent study published this year found that participants who read a book from an electronic device spent less time in the deep phase of sleep, commonly referred as the rapid eye movement (REM) phase. The same participants also reported feeling more sleepy in the morning. Less time for sleep and lower quality of sleep can result in a number of negative effects, including impaired work performance, persistent hunger, and lack of motivation to exercise.
The National Sleep Foundation and most sleep researchers recommend a one-hour-before-bed curfew for electronic devices. How can we resist the urge to check our smartphones, watch TV, and work on our laptops before bed? Try one of these helpful tips:
Find an app: Apps such as Stay Focusd (available for Android phones or Google Chrome users) can be set up to block the usage of certain apps during a set number of hours. Other apps, such as Moment (iOS only), Forest (Android, iOS, and Windows Phone), and Checky (Android and iOS) may motivate you to limit smartphone use by keeping a track of how many times a day your phone has been checked.
Enable airplane mode or turn off your phone: If you just can’t resist checking your phone every time it makes a peep, setting your phone on airplane mode and disabling Wi-Fi right before bedtime will prevent incoming calls, texts, and notifications from causing your phone to vibrate while you are sleeping. Or completely turn off your phone. The extra step of having to turn it back on and wait for everything to load may deter you from checking your phone.
Invest in a real clock: Do you need to know what time it is when you wake up in the middle of the night? Checking the time on your phone might tempt you to check that email or Facebook notification, leading to more browsing and preventing you from falling back asleep. Finding a cheap clock can help you keep your smartphone off at night. If you are one of the 44% of people who use their phone as an alarm, you can find a digital alarm clock for around $7.
Relax before bed: Instead of watching TV, reading an Ebook, or browsing the Internet on your smartphone before you go to bed, try switching to a more relaxing activity to get your body in the mood for sleep. Try light stretching, yoga, meditation, reading a hard-copy book, or listening to a relaxation track, like the Power 20 Meditation and Sleep Aid app.