How far away should your phone be when you sleep?
Author: Jonathan Warren
Ok, confession time. Ever find yourself scrolling through social media, messaging friends or responding to emails just before switching off the light and trying to drift off to sleep? Then suffering from a restless, disrupted night’s sleep, before waking up to an alarm set on your phone and starting the cycle all over again?
Our phones are brilliant things – they allow us to stay connected to our loved ones, keep abreast of news and engage with our favourite sources of entertainment. But, it’s no secret that too much screen time can wreak havoc with our sleeping patterns, meaning that we often wake up feeling groggy, irritable and not at all ready to tackle the day!
Here, we explain how looking at your phone in bed can negatively affect your sleep and offer tips and tricks for keeping your phone out of the bedroom at night.
Why you shouldn’t use your phone before bed
Ever found yourself feeling wired after sitting up in bed answering emails, responding to Whatsapp group chats or scrolling on Instagram? Here’s why screen time before bed is a bad idea…
They keep our brains alert and engaged Phones are an aid to modern-day life – they provide us with information, entertainment and keep us connected to our family, friends and colleagues. Though this level of stimulation is brilliant during the day, the last thing that we want is to be kept awake at night by the urge to respond to messages, read articles or watch just one more TikTok video…
Alongside reducing our actual sleep time (it’s easy to miss out on an hour or two of snooze time while scrolling…) using our phones in bed ensures that our brains stay active and awake, when we should be winding down and preparing for a night of blissful sleep. With our brain in this active, hypervigilant state, we may find it harder to drift off to sleep or get a night of top-quality deep sleep. Over time, these disrupted sleep patterns can lead to issues such as sleep deprivation and insomnia.
Blue light suppresses the production of melatonin
We’ve all heard about the pesky blue light that our phones emit and how this can disrupt our sleeping patterns… but did you know that it can also suppress the production of melatonin? According to the NHS, melatonin is a hormone that occurs naturally in our body that helps to control our sleeping patterns. Suppressing this hormone could lead to disrupted sleep and waking up feeling tired, irritable and unable to focus. Sleep Foundation say:
‘Tempting as it might be to use your computer or phone before bed, studies have shown these devices can interfere with sleep by suppressing the production of melatonin, a natural hormone released in the evening to help you feel tired and ready for sleep. This leads to neurophysiologic arousals that increase feelings of alertness when you should be winding down instead.’
How to keep your phone out of the bedroom
Often find yourself tossing and turning at night, struggling to drift off to sleep? Keeping your phone away from the bedroom is a sure-fire way to ensure that you unwind properly before nodding off – helping you to achieve a better quality of sleep and wake up feeling fresh!
We recommend cutting off screen time an hour before you go to bed, that way you can devote your energy to relaxing and unwinding before donning your pyjamas and snuggling under the duvet. Good calming activities are a warm bath, sipping herbal tea or some gentle stretches on the yoga mat. To keep scrolling temptation at bay, it’s a good idea to banish your phone from the bedroom and keep it in a different room altogether. That way, you won’t be persuaded to reach for it just before bed and be kept awake by that sleep-stealing blue light!
Once you’re in bed, a brilliant way to prepare your mind for sleep is by reading a book, listening to a relaxing sleep podcast, or slowing down with some deep breathing and meditation exercises. Before you know it, you’ll be feeling settled, calm and ready to drift off to the land of nod… Just don’t forget to invest in an alarm clock if you rely on your phone for a morning wake-up call!
Need to make nighttime reading more comfortable?
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