I keep seeing this advertisement on my IG feed, and it drives me crazy!! The whole premise of this ad is to help you to “tidy up” your bedside table by having a cute little accessory to organize all of your tech.
All of the tech that SHOULD NOT BE IN YOUR BEDROOM IN THE FIRST PLACE! (sigh).
100% of my clients who complain about not getting good quality sleep, keep their phones in their bedrooms.
And yet, to date, I have not been as successful as I would like in convincing people to leave their phones in another room of the house overnight.
Using screens before/at bedtime is very addictive and a difficult habit to break. I am not very popular when I ask people to rid their bedrooms of all screens. 😊
However, my clients who have committed to putting away screens at least one hour before bed, and who do not bring their phones to bed, are sleeping much better at night, and feeling more focused and refreshed in the daytime!
As with breaking any bad habit, it takes a bit of time to adjust to the new routine, but once they get there, they are able to enjoy the benefits of a deeper and more restorative sleep. And there are so many other benefits that are not as visible now, but that affect our overall long-term physical and mental well-being.
Your bedroom should be for sleep and intimacy – nothing more. Not for work, nor homework, not for TV-watching, nor video games, and not for phones.
Sleep is essential for keeping your mind and body healthy. So when poor sleep quality happens often, over a long period of time, it can increase the risk of physical and mental health problems including:
Cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke
Type 2 diabetes
Weight gain / Obesity
A weakened immune system
Mental health issues like depression and anxiety
Why is tech in the bedroom unhealthy?
Phones (& TVs, laptops, video games) are a boundless source of information and stimulation, which can provoke a state of arousal and alertness. The stimulation can make it hard to shut down and fall asleep. The mind may be overly excited or activated.
Some people explain to me that they "need" their phones to help them fall asleep (aimless scrolling gets them tired). While this technique might help you to “pass out”, it will not give you a good quality sleep. Same goes for “passing out” in front of a TV. This is a false sense of sleep, one where you will not have the same restful, healing, restorative sleep that your body and mind need.
In addition to the stimulation from staring at phones/TVs/games, these devices also emit a blue light that inhibits the production of melatonin that plays a crucial role in helping you FALL and STAY asleep until you complete your sleeping cycle.
The hormone melatonin also acts as an antioxidant that helps your body attack abnormal cell growth. A reduced amount of melatonin does increase your RISK OF CANCER and reduce your IMMUNE SYSTEM. If your melatonin levels are interrupted for one night it is not a risk. However if you habitually use your phone at night there is a significant increase in risk.
While we are exposed to blue light as part of the full light spectrum during the day from natural sunlight - nighttime exposure from high levels of blue light is unnatural.
You are more likely to wake up in the middle of the night if you used a screen shortly before going to bed.
Smartphone usage in bed has been linked with a reduction in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep - a stage characterized by rapid eye movements and dreams, which helps with your memory and emotional processing.
Reducing the length of REM sleep can also make you feel groggy & less alert and it may take longer to be fully awake in the morning.
REM sleep is important as it is the restorative part of our sleep that plays a critical role in storing long-term memories and is linked to our creative and problem-solving skills.
Studies have shown that people who use their phone before bed take longer to wake up in the morning and do not feel like they have had a restful sleep. People who read a book before going to bed often wake up more alert and refreshed.
What about some of the more physical issues?
When using a phone most people are forcing their body into a position that affects the neck's natural curvature. This problem is compounded when using a phone in bed with extra pressure on your nerves, spine and neck.
In addition, it has been shown that the body’s respiratory system can decrease in capacity by up to 30% when using a phone in bed. Less oxygen in the body means organs will not be able to perform at optimum levels.
Lastly, long-term exposure at high levels has been linked to macular degeneration and this condition leads to the loss of vision.
Some tips for better quality sleep
Keep the bedroom clean, dark, quiet and cool
Step 1: Declutter the bedroom so you have a clear mind as you drift off to dreamland.
Step 2: Close the curtains, lower the blinds, do whatever it takes to let darkness reign. The human body is programmed to wake when it is light out and to sleep when it is dark, so taking these steps helps prevent any interruption of your natural sleep cycle. An eye mask can help if it is hard to get your room completely dark.
Step 3: If any outside noise is disturbing you, try using earplugs or a fan or white noise machine. I do not suggest using a white noise app on your phone, because your phone should not be in your room at all.
Step 4: Drop the thermostat. A warm room is not conducive to sleep. Keep your bedroom cooler than the rest of your home, about 15 to 18 degrees Celsius.
TVs, smartphones, laptops, and gaming consoles are too stimulating to promote good sleep quality. If you are using your phone as an alarm clock – buy an alarm clock instead. Your phone should not be in your room. It should be silenced and plugged in elsewhere.
It might be difficult to not use a phone/TV in the bedroom if you are used to doing so, but I urge you to try for at least a week to resist using tech in your bedroom.
Pro tip: read a book, bake, do a puzzle, chat with a friend/family member an hour or more before bed. Do not watch TV/read your phone that close to bedtime!
Exercising improves sleep because it reduces the time it takes to fall asleep and the amount of time you lie awake in bed. Even just a short walk after dinner helps!
Stick to a routine
Go to bed at around the same time, and you will sleep better. Late nights or sleeping in too long on a weekend can throw your sleep routine off, so dial it back a bit for the sake of your sleep.
Can the caffeine
Tea, coffee and cola (which contain caffeine), can wreck your sleep patterns, so switch to decaffeinated or caffeine-free drinks in the afternoon and evening. Sleep teas like chamomile or peppermint, meanwhile, can help you fall asleep more quickly.
Skip the booze
Do not be fooled by alcohol’s sedative effects. It can rob you of a good night’s sleep, so go to sleep sober.
Ditch the nap
Napping can be useful as a quick recharge. In fact, it is common for shift workers to take a power nap during a work break. But if you are having issues with the quality of your nighttime sleep, skip the nap and see how you feel.
Can’t sleep, get up
If you are laying in bed tossing and turning and you can not fall asleep within 30 minutes or so, sometimes it is better to get up and do a little light activity such as reading or even a few push ups! This can help you relax and get you ready to fall asleep.
Avoid spicy and heavy late-night meals
Spicy food and heavy meals can disturb sleep, especially if they are eaten close to bedtime.
Download my free Sleep Hygiene Handout HERE