Does going on your phone before bed affect your sleep?

by Lakshmi Jaisimha

Short answer – yes, it does. Going on your phone before bed affects your sleep so bad that you might hamper all your life because of it.

And I am not exaggerating. Of all the days I didn’t get proper sleep in my life, the next day is sure to go bad all thanks to the sluggishness and irritation that follows a poor sleep night. Then when I go to bed, I take along the negative thoughts of the day and ruin my sleep again.

The cycle continues until I deliberately try to have a good night’s sleep by cutting off the bedroom phone habit and replacing it with something soothing that can help me have sweet dreams followed by a sweet reality of fulfilling my dreams.

I believe proper sleep every night is one of the best ways to promise yourself a happy and better life.

But how can a simple habit of scrolling through your phones at bed time be so harmful? Read on and you will know.

Why your blue light emitting devices before bed affect your sleep?

1. Due to exposure to blue light

The screens we have all around us – be it your phone, computers, iPad, or TV, all emit blue light waves. So? Well, blue light is that part of the electromagnetic wave spectrum that causes various changes in your body.

– It reduces the production of melatonin hormone in the body.

Our body is intelligent on its own. it knows when you should go to sleep and when you should be awake. And to make sure this process functions properly, it secretes the melatonin hormone whenever it is dark in your surroundings.

But blue light fakes daytime for the body. The body thinks it is not yet time to sleep, and you don’t get to sleep unless you are truly exhausted.

You got to realize that melatonin not only makes sure you can sleep peacefully and on time every night but is also crucial for your brain’s health. and as you may know, the brain has a lot of functions to perform for our well-being, so let’s care for it.

– It makes you feel groggy the next morning.

Not sleeping on time because of reduced melatonin not only hampers your sleep at the moment but also ruins your performance at work the next day. Why? Because lack of good sleep leads to sluggishness, irritation, and thus, reduced attention at work that you should be focusing on.

– It reduces your REM sleep.

REM or Rapid Eye Movement sleep is an essential part of your sleep cycle that activates the creative areas of your brain with the ones related to memory too. Experts say that this is the phase in a sleep cycle when your short-term memory gets converted into long-term memory.

But the lack of proper sleep means a reduction in the amount of REM sleep and thus, poor development of the brain.

– It causes a delay in the circadian rhythm.

A reduced amount of melatonin with a decrease in REM sleep implies that your circadian rhythm (sleep cycle) is no longer functioning well. But this is important, considering this rhythm is responsible for the quality of sleep you have and when you wake up every morning.

In case you are not able to wake up every morning on time (without snoozing) and if you always feel unsatisfied with the amount and quality of rest you have had, the reason most probably is a bad sleep cycle.

2. Due to the effect of social media on your mind.

If you have a habit of checking social media in the last few minutes before you fall asleep, then you may also have issues of jealousy, self-doubt, comparison, and discontent as a part of your life.

The reason I am making this guess is that every night you may be sleeping with thoughts about other people who posted about their achievements, get more likes and comments on their posts, or you not getting the social fame you think you deserve.

Don’t know about you, but I am guilty of letting such things affect me.

3. Due to the effect of new to-dos on your mind.

Much more than social media, I have seen myself get affected by the to-dos that other people throw at me when I am trying to relax and going to sleep.

Whether it is a mail from my boss at work, some freelance client, or a text from some friend asking for a little help, the new work on my plate at such an hour of the day really pisses me off. And trying to sleep with heavy thoughts is more than a chore.

But we can’t expect other people to comply with our bedtime habits, can we? We can only make sure we don’t open the doors for them when we don’t want to, especially knowing how much it affects us.

The best solution in my opinion is to stay away from your phone – as far as possible.

So, how far away should your phone be when you sleep?

Since you want to stop your phone or computers usage before bedtime for a healthy and stress free lifestyle, you need to keep it so far at least that even if you are sleepy, you don’t get your hands on the phone. So, I guess you have two options –

– In the other room

It’s best to keep your phone in any other room but your bedroom. If you have a home office, then it is the ideal place as you will go there only the next morning.

It is better to switch off the smartphones when you keep them in another room unless you are scared of any emergency calls at night.

I wouldn’t recommend keeping your phone near drinking water or eatables. If you have a habit of waking up in the middle of the night to eat something or drink water, you might reach out to your phone as soon as you notice it, out of habit. So, keep your phone in any other room but the kitchen.

– Across the room

In case you use your phone as an alarm clock too, you might not want to switch it off or put it in another room. Firstly, I suggest you buy an inexpensive alarm clock. But until you buy one, you can try putting your phone across the room. Just make sure you can’t reach it without getting out of bed and walking at least a few steps.

This is very useful, especially if you live in chilly areas. and in winters. Nobody wants to leave the warmth of the blanket only to check out the phone on a chilly night, right?

Use the Do Not Disturb feature

You should have your notifications switched off and your phone on the DND mode. A little beep sound of any notification may make you crave for one look at your phone – and we know what seems like just one look or one minute ends up taking 20 minutes without us realizing it. And even a few minutes is enough for the blue light to affect your body’s functions and hamper your sleep.

Other steps you can take:

1. Keep a reminder.

Every new habit requires a cue/trigger to remind you about it. So, make sure you keep an alarm around 2 hours before bedtime to switch off the devices in your room.

2. Tell people about your new habit.

If your friends and family are used to sending you texts around bedtime for you and that keeps you chatting for even a few minutes, you must make sure you let them know about this new endeavor, so you don’t assume somebody might need you and that you should stay around your phone.

3. Make sure you sleep well.

If you are an insomniac, you may want to do something in the time you aren’t able to sleep. And the first thing you do is using your phone.

So, you need to make sure you are sleeping well. You can use an eye mask or black-out curtains to ensure no light gets in your eyes. Have your last meal 3-4 hours before trying to fall asleep.

Make sure you don’t consume caffeine for at least the last 7-8 hours before bed. Caffeine suppresses melatonin too.

The Bottom Line

Using your phone before bed affects your sleep due to the blue light it emits. In fact, it affects more than just your sleep. But you can make sure you get enough amount of high-quality sleep every night by following a good nighttime routine according to the tips mentioned above. Let me know if they help!


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