Sleeping well is paramount for long-term health. It's best to reach seven to nine hours of sleep for maximum physical and mental performance. Achieving good sleep quality is equally important as getting the right amount of sleep. However, with so many electronic devices disrupting sleep patterns, sleeping well can take time and effort.
Phones are particularly detrimental to sleep, so much so that a study conducted in 2014
found that around 80% of teens admitted to using their phones when they were supposed to be sleeping. Sleep debt in the long term can increase the risk of long-term health problems like obesity and depression. Luckily there are several ways to change how you use your phone to benefit sleep, and most of them are relatively simple to implement.
1. Turn Off Blue Light
Occasionally called high-energy visible light (HEV), blue light is a form of visible light. Electronic devices that use LED technology emit high amounts of blue light, including the screens on phones, laptops and televisions. Not only will over-exposure to blue light damage the retinas in your eyes, but it will also affect how your brain functions at night. For example, too much exposure to blue light before sleep will trick your brain into thinking it is daytime and decrease the production of melatonin, the hormone that helps you sleep.
Turning off the blue light on your phone entirely or past a specific time will prevent your brain from overworking and help you settle into a regular sleeping pattern.
Knowing how to set Gmail to dark mode and other applications on your phone will also reduce your exposure to blue light and improve your sleep quality.
2. Decrease Screen Time Before Bed
Even though you can turn off the blue light on your phone, minimizing phone usage is the soundest way to prepare yourself for sleep. Sleep experts recommend not using your phone for at least 30 minutes before sleeping. However, this can prove problematic as phones are incredibly addictive. For perspective, in a study taken from 2022, up to 47% of the American population admitted to using their smartphones too much. If you have a high screen time on your phone, trying to stay away from your phone may prove difficult. Here are alternatives to using your phone at night:
● Read a book: Reading before bed will help to alleviate stress and calm you down before you close your eyes.
● Yoga/meditation: Combining yoga with meditation before sleep will not only improve your flexibility and decrease the risk of developing arthritis but also steady your heart rate and make it easier to relax at night.
● Journaling: Recapping your day in a journal helps you get into a healthy sleep routine and allows you to be thankful for what you have.
● Take a shower/bath: A shower or bath at a temperature neither too hot nor too cold will help your body regulate temperature, allowing you to feel more comfortable before you enter sleep.
Try to combine these tips to create your bedtime routine. Though it will be challenging to replace screen time at first, the more you repeat these positive activities, the easier it will be to stick to them.
Disabling notifications on your phone will prevent distractions from your new routine, but it is not always possible to do, especially for people who have dependents. Picking up as many hobbies as possible is also a great way to reduce overall screen time.
Using tech and apps to monitor and improve sleep
3. Sleep-Supporting Tech and Apps
Technology isn't always detrimental to sleep. Plenty of apps and technology on the market promote positive sleep habits. Sleep experts design these to help you get into and maintain optimal sleep.
There is an abundance of technology on the market that monitors and improves sleep. For example, most modern smartwatches can monitor the length of sleep and stages of sleep, including the time you spend in REM, light sleep and deep sleep. Knowing how much time you spend in each stage of sleep will assist you in creating a specific routine to get more quality shut-eye.
Sleep apps can help you in many ways, from daily advice and tips to monitoring your snoring and sleep-talking. Often the alarms built into these apps are of higher quality. In addition, most are designed to wake you up lightly during the light sleep stage.
For those who suffer from tinnitus, plenty of white noise apps can help you sleep by drowning out any ringing noises in your ears. These are often better and more soothing than simply leaving a fan or a TV on for background noise.
4. Adjusting Your Environment for Better Sleep
There are plenty of ways to adjust your bedroom to assist sleep. When creating your comfort zone, try to include components promoting positive sleep habits.
For example, keeping your bedroom temperature between 60 and 70 Fahrenheit will help your body cool down when you are about to sleep. Note that this temperature varies for specific people, so be sure to experiment to find your sweet spot.
Try to keep your room as dark as possible by using things like blackout curtains to assist in sleep. Exposure to all light, not just blue light, can suppress melatonin and agitate your mind as you try to sleep.
High-quality bedding is also a must. Light bedding which feels comfortable is often best for sleep. If you live in an area with drastic climate change between seasons, try to invest in softer sheets for the summer and thicker sheets for the winter.
So many people neglect their sleep and wonder why they don't feel 100%, don't be one of them. Instead, use these tips to optimize your sleep and get the best 7-9 hours of sleep you can possibly get. Maintaining sleep will prolong your lifespan and have longer-lasting health. On average, you will sleep 229,961 hours across your lifetime. That's around a third of your life. So make sure each hour is better than the last to feel fantastic.