Resolved: Less Screen Time before Bed
A lot of ideas are floating around for resolutions around this time of renewal and promise. We could all use some inspiration after the year we’ve had! Sometimes resolutions can be a bit over-achieving and sometimes we simply forget about them. The obvious ones such as exercise and eating habits are always a great start but sometimes, especially in our current circumstances, they can prove to be difficult to maintain. We would like to extend an idea for a New Years resolution from our hearts to yours! Have you considered decreasing your screen time before bed? While it’s a realistic goal, some may believe it to be underwhelming or inconsequential. That couldn’t be farther from the truth! In this article we provide you with some information to help you think critically and consider a small resolution that could take your sleep health -and by extension, your overall health- to the next level!
Starting with the basics
While surfing the settings on your phone you may have heard the word “blue light” thrown around here or there. This is the type of light that is emitted from our phones. Blue light’s wavelength is short, making our circadian rhythm especially susceptible to its rays. This type of light is just one of the many ways that using our phones before bed can damage our sleep. Not to mention that studies have implicated blue light in cases of retina damage. Now, the best course of action would be to simply restrict phone usage at a certain time before bed. However, we are aware that sometimes this isn’t possible with so many different schedules out there. This is where blue-light filters come in: most phones have an option to decrease the amount of blue light emitted by your phone at night. This may give your phone screen an “orangey” glow, but you’ll get used to it. A little difference can go a long way!
Constantly viewing and checking your device can lead to a more obvious and expected outcome: it keeps your brain engaged and alert at a time it should be preparing for sleep. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. You check your notification that you just received and it sends you on a scrolling-spree for 10 minutes. Next thing you know, you’re trying to sleep with the mind of someone who just drank a cup of strong coffee! Sleep experts say that even just one check of a phone at night can significantly impact your sleep. Never underestimate how engaging our devices can be. After all, they were designed to keep us logged in and interested as long as possible.
Here at Zenbev, we are trying to get the word out about healthy, natural sleep. Zenbev Drink Mix is a powder beverage mix that provides the ingredients you need to manufacture your own personal melatonin in order to sleep the way nature intended. Melatonin production requires absolute dark and peaceful brain preparation. Screens -their activation, their light and sounds-greatly inhibit natural sleep but there are simple ways to take charge and get back to proper sleep habits!
How to stop the scroll: some steps
Now, this is the hard part. How do you slow down a practice that has become so insidiously ingrained in our routines? Even for those of us who don’t use their phones too often, it can be hard to shake the feeling that we never truly “log off”. The world expects a certain amount of social connection from us each day and many have become even more dependent on this type of communication during the isolation of the pandemic. Here’s how to slow it down:
- Try to leave your phone in another room
While this may seem impractical at first, it gets easier the more you do it. You may wonder, “What if someone needs to reach me?”. The thing is: they’ll never know if you’re sleeping or not! Bedtime should be “you time”, so stop being so willing to hand it over to others! It may take practice, but try to fight the urge to stay connected and start to be comfortable with the idea of logging off and truly disconnecting at night. Do it for you! It will help you ground yourself!
- Try sleep-promoting apps
As is customary in the 21st century, if you have a problem, you can probably assume there’s an app for it. Slowing down our phone usage is no exception! The app, SleepTown ironically helps you stay away from the very device it is installed on. It’s fun and actually more like a productive game. The idea is a goal-based system that allows you to set a time before bed in which you aren’t allowed to use your phone. Every day that you don’t use your phone before bed contributes to your progress. Once you do use your phone, the progress is reset and you have to start tracking from the start. This is an easy way to track your sleep health journey if you are competitive with yourself and like to have results that you can see.
- Replace the phone with another hobby
Consider a swap. Replace the habit of going straight to the phone with something like a book. You may notice that when you read a book, the sleepy feeling takes a hold right around the time you should be in bed, while this is not always the case for phones. The reasons for this are mentioned earlier in the article and it should always be kept in mind that there are always more productive things to do than scroll on our social media feeds before bed. It just takes practice! Books are plentiful, free from the library and cover every topic imaginable. As long as your book is not too upsetting or energizing, it can become just the right smooth, enjoyable trigger to set you off to slumberland.
- Turning off push notifications is key
Notifications on our phone are designed to be as attention grabbing as possible. There are many apps that already have notifications enabled that are unnecessary. We can simply check these things in the morning, although their salient sound effects and icons make our brains associate notification with satisfaction. Eliminating these threats to sleep is another way to prolong our peaceful bedtime contributing to healthy, uninterrupted sleep. If you absolutely need your phone to wake you in the morning, put it on silent and place it in a box or under a pillow so the light emitted by silent notifications does not interfere with the darkness and silence you need to sleep soundly.
- Form a schedule
The amount of things in our life that can be fixed by following a schedule is astounding! Schedule building is just another New Years resolution idea to tie in with cutting down our device time. Make the steps to build a schedule and you’ll find that it gets easier and easier to introduce phone restrictions before bed. Starting with small increments and continually increasing, you can easily get to the 45 minutes-before-bed mark. Any time interval is progress and every minute counts!
Try these tips to get off to a great start this brave new year!