Bedtime, It’s Sacred
Sleep experts have been preaching about it for the past few years. I’ve read numerous articles about it. All the great leaders do it. But I’ve never been able to until now.
As of last week, I’ve made a resolution to not have technology in bed. In fact, I’ve set a bedtime for myself and turn all technology off at that time. (It’s midnight, so don’t get too impressed.) But even in this first week of implementation, I’ve seen noted results in my sleep patterns.
Like most Americans, I used to fall asleep with phone in hand, nodding off in the middle of posting an Instagram picture or leaving a Facebook comment. An embarrassing amount of times, my phone has jolted me awake, not by ringing or buzzing but by literally hitting me on the head because I’d fallen asleep and dropped my phone. So if you’re wondering, yes, that’s where the bruise on my forehead came from.
But it seems pretty obvious, this isn’t good for us. Yes, it’s convenient. Yes, it’s fun. And yes, it can even help us unwind. But we are depriving ourselves of much needed, genuinely good sleep.
According to a Washington Post article about the effects of technology in the bedroom, the glowing light of cell phones, computers, tablets and televisions reduce the levels of melatonin, controls your sleeping and waking cycles, and reducing this melatonin makes it harder not not only fall asleep, but to also stay asleep.
But mornings are always groggy for me, and coffee is there to keep me awake, right?
The Washington Post article went on to explain that a continued lack of REM sleep can actually result in multiple types of cancers (prostate and breast), as well as obesity and diabetes.
If that’s not enough, using technology before going to bed also keeps our brain active. Even if we think a movie helps us relax or we can sleep better after that last work email is sent, our brain is remaining active up until the time we tell it, OK, now go to sleep……right now. We are literally tricking our brain into thinking it needs to stay awake.
I don’t know about you, but I find this kind of scary!
Instead of falling asleep with a blue glow burning my eyes and confusing my brain into a tainted slumber, I’ve been choosing non-electronic alternatives to unwind. Some nights I chose to cross-stitch my way into sleepiness. Other nights, I journaled about my day and set intentions for my tomorrow. I plan to use this time to read the many magazines I subscribe to, which is one of my new year’s resolutions, anyway.
Further, by giving my eyes and mind a 30-to-60 minute reprieve from the glowing screen, I’ve noticed falling asleep happens much faster. I’ve generally felt more ready to awake in the morning, too. To top it off, by choosing to spend my last minutes of the day reflecting, meditating, setting intentions and working on a hobby, I feel more content about the way I’m utilizing my time, which in turn, leads me to sleep better.
I realize I’ve only been at this for a week. And I also get really excited about starting something new and have difficulties following through sometimes. But in this arena, I really want to push myself to maintain this habit. Therefore, I’ve decided to report back on this in a month. I’ll let you know if my sleep has continued to improve, if I’ve majorly failed and anything else I observe over the course of transforming this from an experiment to a habit.
Will you join me? I want to challenge you to try it this week. Instead of carrying your phone or computer or tablet to bed, try putting it away 30 minutes before you decide to fall asleep. Use this time to read that book on your night stand, or write that letter to your grandma, or even just daydream about life with better sleep.
Please let me know what you think. Did you enjoy this time away from technology? What did you do instead? Did you notice a difference in your sleep?