Is your phone keeping you awake?

Is your phone keeping you awake?

Here are five ways to disconnect and fall asleep


Using electronic devices just before trying to go to sleep is a bad idea.

Using electronic devices just before trying to go to sleep is a bad idea.


People who are anxious about staying connected are more likely to use their smartphones and other devices right up until bedtime, which can lead to sleep problems. So how do you reduce your nighttime anxiety and permit your brain to sleep effectively?

The blue wavelength light from light-emitting diode-based devices (phones, tablets, computers) increases the release of cortisol in the brain. This makes us more alert and inhibits the production of melatonin, which is needed to fall asleep. Here’s how to avoid the LED-inflicted anxiety:

1. During the day, practice not reacting to incoming alerts or notifications like one of Pavlov’s dogs. Don’t check your phone every time it beeps. Turn off notifications and check every 15 minutes, and gradually increase that to 30 minutes or more. Stop using all devices one hour before bedtime.

2. Put all devices in another room rather than keep them in your bedroom to discourage you from checking them during the night.

3. During the last hour before bedtime, dim the lights and choose an activity that your brain will find predictable and, thus, not anxiety-provoking. Watch a television show that you love or read a book by a familiar author.

4. Listen to a playlist of your favorite songs on low volume. If you need a device to do this, burn CDs and get a CD player. The key is to use a device that doesn’t have Internet access, email or a phone.

5. If you awaken in the middle of the night, try this trick: have a song lyric (not the whole song) that you plan to sing in your mind over and over to block the anxiety and allow you to fall back to sleep.

Our devices are a gift that connect us to so many people and so much information, but they do not have to raise our anxiety and harm our all-important sleep.

- In association with Harvard Business Review


Previously published in The Irish Times.


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