There is a lot that can go into creating a healthy sleep routine. Daily exercise, eating right, good habits…all of these play a vital role in sleep health. But one of the most important? Powering down the digital devices in your home.
How you engage with cell phones, tables, computers and TV’s before bed can have a dramatic effect on the length and quality of your sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a whopping 90% of U.S. adults admit to using an electronic device within 60 minutes of trying to go to sleep. Why is this so troubling? Two reasons:
- Electronic device are designed to stimulate your brain’s circuits. Whether it’s watching a captivating TV show, answering emails, or playing a video game, electronic devices call on your brain to think, react, and engage. And when you brain does this, it delays the release of melatonin, which is the key hormone that induces sleep. This means that when you finally turn off that device and settle into bed, your brain hasn’t caught up yet, and it’ll be much harder to fall asleep.
- Electronic devices emit short-wavelength, artificial blue light. Studies have shown that this type of light causes alertness in the brain, and reduces the amount of REM sleep you get on any given night. And less REM sleep means you’ll awake tired and groggy the next morning.
That said, we know how difficult it can be to completely detach yourself from electronic devices before bed, so we’ve put together a few of our favorite tips and tricks to help you take back control, and get the quality, healthy sleep you need and deserve:
End Your Workday Prepared for Tomorrow
One of the biggest reasons that people stay up all night checking and responding to email is that they feel behind on their work. This feeling is often triggered by a lack of planning and prioritization.
Reduce the urge to stay up late working by clearly ending each day with a 15-minute strategy session for tomorrow. Earmark emails that need a response. Block out time on your calendar for important projects. Create a call list for when you first arrive. Do whatever you need to do so that you know tomorrow will be a productive day.
By stamping each day with a thorough plan for tomorrow, you’ll be better able to shut down and shut off each night before bed.
Set a Digital Curfew
No matter if you’re a serial late-night emailer, binge-watcher, or gamer, make your powering down before bed a routine habit by clearly setting a digital curfew. This should be at least 60 minutes before you intend to go to sleep, so if you want to be in bed and asleep by 10:30pm, your house should have a “no electronics curfew” that begins promptly each night at 9:30pm.
By setting a firm, consistent time, you can better control the urges to send “just a few more emails” or watch “just one more episode”, allowing you to get to bed and fall into a quality sleep - on time - each and every night.
Make Your Bedroom a Sanctuary
Along with a digital curfew, further enhance your ability to power down before bed by making your bedroom a sanctuary from all electronic devices. This includes computers, tablets, TV’s, and yes, even cell phones.
The fewer devices in the bedroom, the easier it’ll for your brain to associate the room with sleep, and only sleep. It’ll also reduce your urge to grab your phone in the middle of the night to check email.
And for all those “my phone is my alarm” folks out there, Amazon has a whole collection of cheap digital alarm clocks that you can utilize instead.
In addition to keeping electronic devices out of the bedroom, you’ll want to invite in all the things that can make for a peaceful night’s sleep. Of course, the most important area to focus on is your bed. While finding the right mattress is important, equally important is finding the right organic bedding, as this plays a major role in sleep comfort.
By covering your bed in luxurious, 100% organic cotton duvet covers and sheet sets, you’re guaranteeing that your body will only be in contact with the absolute best of fabrics. With the incredible breathability and softness that comes from 100% certified organic cotton sheets and pillowcases, there will be no discomfort, irritation or unwanted heat disrupting your good night’s sleep.
Substitute Sleep-Inducing Activities
With electronic devices off the table, you may be wondering what it is you’re supposed to do before bed instead. Thankfully, there are a lot of great activities that are not only good for your mind and spirit, but for sleep as well.
One of the most popular? Reading. Reading before bed can help the highly-stimulated parts of your brain power down, and for melatonin to begin its release (just be sure you’re not reading any stress-inducing news articles). Plus, by cozying into your luxurious bedding with a good book before bed, your brain will automatically create an association between reading and sleep.
Not a reader? Try listening to an audiobook, mellow music, or a low-key audiobook instead. Hot baths, a cup of caffeine-free tea, and meditation are all great options as well. Just be sure to pick something you enjoy, so that you can make it a consistent habit night after night.
While electronic devices are a vital component to many parts of our lives, they have had unintended consequences on our sleep. Powering down before bed is a must if you want to get better, healthier sleep. So set your routine, create a digital curfew, swap out stimulating activities for relaxing ones, and enjoy the best night’s sleep you’ve ever had!