Why you should stop using screens before bed and 5 ways to stop it

Using your phone at night can decrease the quality of your sleep and cause you to get less sleep through the overstimulation of social media and TV.

Why you should stop using screens before bed and 5 ways to stop it
You hit the pillow with the best intentions of going straight to sleep, but a quick check of social media spirals into an extended doom-scrolling session. Over 91% of adults admit to not feeling rested, which could be down to our collective increase in screen time and stress. The pre-sleep phone ritual that might feel relaxing in the moment, might actually be sabotaging your sleep quality.

How do screens impact sleep?

Sleep is intrinsically linked to our mood, focus and happiness. A recent survey by Calm found that 78% of adults agree that their quality of sleep impacts their mental health, yet only 1 in 3 adults get over 7 hours sleep a night.
When you're asleep, your brain stays busy. It consolidates learnings and memories, regulates hormones, controls inflammation and repairs our muscles. Essentially, sleep is one of the most important activities to keep us healthy and productive, and being sleep-deprived can have the same impacts on our mental state as being intoxicated. One study found that restricting mobile phone use close to bedtime reduced sleep latency and increased sleep duration and working memory.

1. Screen use before bed suppresses melatonin

Our phones and screens emit blue light, which disrupts the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. Studies by Harvard University researchers found that exposure to blue light before bed suppresses melatonin by up to 22%. This translates to taking longer to fall asleep, restless nights, and less overall sleep time.

2. Screen use before bed can overstimulate your brain

When you’re getting ready for bed, your brain should be slowing down and preparing for rest. However using screens before bed to scroll social media, or watch a TV show, stimulates your brain and can make it harder to get to sleep.

3. Screens before bed can reduce the length of sleep

Social media algorithms are expertly built to keep you mindlessly scrolling. They tap into your reward centre and keep you scrolling to get your next dopamine hit. This means when you intend to have a quick scroll, you end up staying awake for longer. This is particularly true for Gen Z, who are 26% more likely to be kept up by prolonged technology use than Millennials.
Chronic sleep deprivation linked to phone use before bed can have a significant impact on your daily life, as it can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle (or circadian rhythm). You might experience:
  • Brain fog: Feeling sluggish and having trouble concentrating.
  • Mood swings: Feeling more irritable and easily frustrated.
  • Decreased productivity: Struggling to focus at work or school.
  • Weakened immune system: Making you more susceptible to getting sick.
  • Physical exhaustion: Feeling heavy and sleepy during waking hours.

5 ways to avoid using your phone before bed

So, what can you do to break the cycle and stop using your phone before bed? Here are a few tips:
  • Don’t take your phone to bed. Make your bedroom a phone-free zone. Charge your phone outside the bedroom or invest in an old-fashioned alarm clock.
  • Avoid screens for at least 1 hour before bedtime. Put your phone away and replace with non-tech activity. Take a warm bath, read a book, or practice calming breathing exercises.
  • Choose audio over visual. Listen to a Calm Sleep Story or ambient soundscape to help you relax. If you do need to use your phone, use it on low brightness or grayscale.
  • Set a digital sunset: Most phones and tablets have built-in night mode settings that reduce blue light emissions in the evening. Activate this feature at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Get an analogue alarm clock: This will mean you don’t need to pick up your phone before bed or first thing in the morning.
By prioritising a good night's sleep, you're investing in a healthier, happier you. So ditch the phone, embrace a relaxing bedtime routine, and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day!

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