By now it shouldn’t come as a surprise that using technology in the hours leading up to bedtime can affect your quality of sleep.
It’s been widely publicised that exposure to the artificial blue and white light emitted from digital screens prevents your brain from releasing the hormone melatonin, which lets your body know when it’s time to hit the hay. Though there’s been a lot of talk about how and why gadgets can impair our sleep quality, getting them out of sight is much easier said than done – we know from experience!
‘Get Gadgets Out Of Sight’ is a favourite challenge amongst our past 6 Week Sleep Challenge participants, and we often hear how they are blown away by not only the difference that it makes, but also how hard it is. We have become so accustomed to having our phones, TVs, and computers with us in the bedroom that it’s seemingly impossible to switch off. But never fear, there are alternatives! After all, people had to do something with their time at night before smartphones entered our lives.
1. Read a book
Yes, they do still make real, physical books – and there are so many great reasons to read them instead of e-books! Not only do they not have the harmful artificial light, but they can also help broaden your vocabulary, give your brain a workout, and reduce stress.
2. Listen to a podcast
Or an audiobook. Or music. If reading is not really your thing, there are plenty of engaging relaxation alternatives that you can listen to instead. Depending on what tickles your fancy, you could listen to an intellectual podcast, or maybe something funny. You could unwind and listen to your favourite music. You could read with your ears – the options are plentiful!
If you’re thinking “but I need to use my phone to select what I want to listen to”, try downloading an app that filters your screen to a warmer lighting, or if you’ve got an iPhone, switch it onto ‘Nightshift’ in your ‘Display & Brightness’ settings.
3. Have a warm shower (or bath)
Showers may be the key to waking up in the morning, but they can have their benefits at night too! Your body’s temperature naturally dips during the night – starting at about two hours before bedtime, and reaching a low between 2am and 4am. Having a warm shower or bath raises your temperature again, and then the steep drop in temperature that follows is naturally sleep-inducing, and increases your chances of a deep sleep.
This one might not be a viable option for every night of the week, but spending quality time with friends or family is a welcome alternative to staring at your phone. Whether you relax over a nice glass of red (but not too many), go for a stroll, play a board game, or simply sit and chat, it’s entirely up to you!
5. Get creative
This one will depend on whether you already have a creative vice, and what it is. Perhaps you like to write? Or sketch? Or paint? Or knit? Maybe music is more your thing? It’s nice to set aside time to focus on your hobbies, and it’s a bonus if it helps to improve your sleep. Remember though, if you’re going to get creative before bed, make sure your vice is something that relaxes you rather than something that stimulates you and keeps you up until the wee hours.
Have you tried putting away your gadgets before bed? If so, how did you go? Tell us in the comments below.