Why you should stop using your phone in the morning

Do you check your phone as soon as you wake up? Well it might not be the best way to start your day. Here’s why you should avoid using your phone in the morning

Why you should stop using your phone in the morning
Reaching for our phones first thing in the morning is a common reflex, with over 80% of us check it in the first 15 minutes after waking up. But just because everyone does it, doesn’t mean it’s good for us.
Before you unlock that email inbox or scroll through social media, you might want to consider the effects it has on your brain. Here's why ditching your phone for a more mindful morning routine can be a game-changer for your well-being and productivity.

What happens to your brain when you check your phone in the morning

As you transition from sleep to wake, your brain transitions through different brainwave states: from delta waves (deep sleep) to theta waves (lighter sleep) and finally to alpha waves, which are associated with quiet wakefulness.
When you first wake, your brain is in a state dominated by theta waves, which are associated with relaxation and daydreaming and gently stimulating creativity. Reaching for your phone right away disrupts this natural progression.
Overloading with stimulating content first thing can thrust your brain into beta waves, the state associated with focused attention. While beta waves are great for tackling tasks later in the day, experiencing them too early can leave you feeling scattered and stressed, and prime your brain for distraction throughout the day.
Early morning screen use can also impact mental sharpness and emotional resilience throughout the day. The immediate influx of information can overload your cognitive capacity, reducing your ability to concentrate and make thoughtful decisions.

Impacts of checking your phone as soon as you wake up

Checking your phone first thing in the morning can
  • Disrupted Sleep-Wake Cycle Using your phone immediately can abruptly shift your brain into a state of heightened alertness, disrupting this natural progression.
  • Increased stress and anxiety Notifications, emails, and social media updates can create an instant sense of urgency. Research shows that beginning your day in a reactive mode, as opposed to a proactive one, can increase stress and anxiety levels.
  • Increased distraction throughout the day Engaging with your phone right after waking up can scatter your focus, making it harder to concentrate later in the day. By using your phone in the morning, you’re more likely to continue to be distracted for the rest of the day.
  • Elevate dopamine baseline Using your phone in the morning can elevate your dopamine baseline— the level of dopamine your brain expects to receive in order to feel pleasure or satisfaction. Which means you’re more likely to keep chasing the dopamine spikes from social media throughout the day.

How long should you avoid screens in the morning?

To make the most of your morning, aim to avoid screens for at least the first hour after waking up. This period is crucial for your brain to fully transition through its natural wake-up phases without disruption. If an hour seems too much at first, start with smaller increments and gradually build up to it.

How to avoid morning screen time

So, how can you break free from the morning scroll for increased focus throughout the day?
  1. Sunshine before screens Instead of reaching for your phone, open the curtains and let some natural light in. Sunlight helps regulate your circadian rhythm and promotes feelings of alertness.
  1. Use a traditional alarm clock Invest in an old-fashioned alarm clock and charge your phone away from your bedside table. Out of sight, out of mind! Instead of using your phone as an alarm, switch back to a traditional alarm clock. This prevents the temptation to start scrolling through notifications the moment you wake up.
  1. Gradual adjustment: Start by delaying your phone use after you wake up. If you’re used to checking your phone first thing, try waiting 30 minutes, then an hour, and gradually increase. Aim for a screen-free first hour each morning.
  1. Leave your phone away from your bedside Leave your phone in another room before you go to bed. If it’s not within easy reach, you’re less likely to grab it first thing in the morning.
  1. Build a strong morning routine: Develop a morning routine that doesn’t involve electronics. Consider activities like reading, meditating, exercising, or preparing a nice breakfast. This not only diverts your attention but also enhances your mood and productivity.

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