The truth about smartphones and sleep is that the light given off by our favorite gadget can prevent us from falling asleep and getting quality sleep. Using your phone before bed exposes you to the blue-and-white light given off by the phones’ screens, preventing the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin from being released by the brain, making us alert instead of sleepy.
This is why the most common advice given to people who have trouble falling asleep, aside from staying away from caffeine, is to power off electronic gadgets.
But trying to keep away from our phones can be terribly difficult, especially if you consider your phone an extension of yourself, a gadget that allows you to stay connected with friends and family, help you organize your workday, catch up with your favorite shows and even control all the other smart gadgets you have at home.
Indeed, for many people, using phones before bed isn’t hardheadedness – using your phone before bed has evolved from habit to necessity. Thankfully, there are ways to use our phones in bed without destroying what could be a good night’s sleep.
Let there be (good) light
Fight fire with fire. If the problem with using phones is the blue light they emit, then it makes sense to counter this with light as well – light that poses no disruptions to the body’s natural functions. New smartphone models today come with a built-in night mode that filters out blue light and emit warmer light instead. There are also mobile apps you can install in your phone so that you can adjust the color and brightness of your screen when you’re in bed preparing to sleep.
Finish up online activities 30 minutes before bedtime
The National Sleep Foundation recommends at least half an hour of gadget-free time before bed, so make it easier for your body to adjust and prepare for bedtime by stopping all of your phone activities 30 minutes before you go to sleep. This can take some discipline but your efforts will pay off because you will get to fall asleep faster. If you find you can’t let go of your smartphone screen habit cold turkey, here are a few tips that can help.
- Turn off your Wi-Fi or use an internet blocker. Checking just one more social media account can result in 10 more minutes of you staying awake, so curb this desire by turning off your phone’s Wi-Fi or using an app or internet blocker.
- Listen to a podcast. A particularly boring one you have absolutely no interest in can work to make you fall asleep.
- Put your phone somewhere you can’t reach but can still hear. If you keep your phone on for any emergencies, you can place it on a table across the room where you can still hear it.
- Install on-screen filters. Aside from mobile apps, there are also screen protectors that can be placed right over your phone’s screen to block blue light.
- Wear goggles with amber lenses. Glasses or goggles with amber-colored lenses have been developed to block blue light coming from electronic screens. If reading articles or books online helps you fall asleep, you can invest in these glasses to ease your way into dreamland.