By: Ann Agapis, York JCC Life Coach
Sleep is extremely important to our health and wellbeing. In fact, it is just as valuable as exercise and healthy eating. Sleeping at least 7-9 hours a night has been linked to a healthier immune system, improved concentration and productivity, and greater athletic ability. Unfortunately, recent studies are showing that we are sleeping less than in the past and the quality has decreased as well.
Electronic back-lit devices, like phones, computers, and tablets are a main reason preventing a good night’s sleep. The “blue light” of the screen impacts our brain’s production of melatonin, delaying the onset of sleep. It can also reduce the amount of time you spend in rapid eye movement (REM), which is essential for cognitive functioning. Sleeping with devices nearby can easily wake us with calls, texts, and alerts. Those “quick checks” in bed lead to unplanned minutes, or sometimes hours of scrolling through social media. Not to mention the work emails and news reports that can add stress and anxiety before bed.
Below are a few tips to help you manage or possibly eliminate electronic devices from your bedroom for a better night’s rest:
- Set a time to put devices away. It is recommended to avoid using all computers, smartphones, and other blue light-emitting devices all together in the hours leading up to bedtime. However, try putting them away at least 30 minutes before.
- Read a book. Swapping out your device for a (paper) book before bed has been shown to help you fall asleep quickly and peacefully.
- Place your phone in another room before you get in bed. If you are concerned you will miss an important call, use your settings to only ring for certain numbers in case of an emergency.
- Recognize your bedroom as a place of rest and relaxation. Get rid of all electronics, including televisions. Try meditation or breathing exercises to avoid picking up a device.
- Invest in an alarm clock. There are several options including some that play relaxing sounds to help you fall asleep and those that mimic a natural sunrise to wake you gently in the morning.
- Switch your phone to “do not disturb.” If you can’t let go of your phone completely, this setting will dim the lock screen, silence all calls and alerts that arrive when your device is locked, and will send notifications to your history.
Eliminating or reducing electronics before bed may be an adjustment, but the benefits will be worth it. You will wake up feeling rested and refreshed! Remember, all the news, work emails, and social media accounts will still be there in the morning.
The views expressed in editorials and opinion pieces are those of each author and not necessarily the views of the York JCC.