Quite often, the first piece of advice we receive when trying to change our sleeping habits and to get a better night’s sleep is to put our phone (and all other types of screens and technology) away. Experts recommend that adolescents get at least 8-10 hours of sleep a night, and, to ensure staying asleep, to avoid screen time at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before you plan to call it a night.
There are plenty of reasons to explain why you should avoid your phone, computer, tablets, and TVs before bed: the bright light keeps you alert and makes you less tired (but more tired in the morning), REM sleep (where memories are processed with ties to problem-solving skills) is decreased, and of course, using screens delays sleep as a whole because you’re engaging with content in some way.
But like all habits, distancing yourself from your phone before bed is easier said than done. For a generation of youths that communicate online as much as, if not more, communicating face-to-face, putting phones away, along with the conversations, social media platforms, and friends that come with it, can be nerve wracking.
We’ve talked about FOMO and social media breaks before. Because technology and social media is so crucial to how many youths communicate today, it’s easy to feel like anything could happen and that you can miss something important without your phone for just a few seconds, an hour before sleeping, and even longer than that. Not having your phone charging next to you means that you might miss a conversation in a group chat, an email, or even a notification about something you don’t care about at all. The excitement of social media, regardless of what the content is, and just the fact that there is always content to see, makes us want to stay on and makes us afraid that we’ll miss something important, even if we most likely won’t.
If you’re trying to get a better night’s sleep but are having a hard time parting from your phone to do so, just know that all that content will also be there in the morning. Most of the time, there isn’t anything groundbreaking that requires us to stay up expecting an alert at 1AM. Putting your phone away right before bed can also be the first step to take if you want to distance yourself from how much you use and rely on social media as a whole.
If anything, keeping your phone away may make it easier to get out of bed! If you use your phone for your alarm and have it far away from you, you have to get out of it to turn it off, instead of pressing snooze a bunch of times and/or staying in bed scrolling aimlessly on your phone, just like you did the night before, giving you a less groggy and grumpy start to the day.
Do you have trouble sleeping at night? Where do you keep your phone when you’re getting ready for bed? Have you ever considered keeping your phone away before bed? If you have, or do keep it away, has it made any difference in your sleep?