If you are seeing this blog or video whilst lying in bed then turn it off right now…it can wait until morning!! The Digital Elephant is clearly in your bedroom!

Sleeping with the Enemy!

So, you sleep with your phone/ tablet/ laptop (NB for the rest of this article I will just use the word phone, but please insert whichever screen device applies to you!)? What is wrong with that I hear you ask? The main problem is that it can have a major effect on your sleep – both physiologically and emotionally.

Not getting enough good quality sleep is detrimental to your health in both the long and short term.   In the short term obviously you feel tired, you are less motivated to do all the things you should do to look after yourself, you will be less productive and potentially then become stressed about what you are not achieving (check out my blog on the relationship between stress and productivity), you will potentially be short tempered and impatient with other people you are dealing with and you will probably resort to ‘quick’ fixes like caffeine and sugar to give you a boost, neither of which provide you with any nutritional value and can be potentially harmful in themselves. In the long term, not getting enough sleep interferes with all physiological processes of the body, most importantly the immune system. So effectively, not getting enough sleep can increase the likelihood of serious illness and even premature death!

How does a phone interfere with your sleep?

There are two main reasons that your phone can interfere with your sleep. Firstly, if you are checking up on the latest Tweets or news headlines or emails in your inbox just before you go to sleep, or even worse, when you wake up in the middle of the night, this can be very stimulating, when you are actually meant to be winding down and relaxing.

Secondly, phones and other screen devices emit ‘blue light’ and this type of light affects the production of the hormone melatonin, which regulates sleep patterns. So if you are looking at a phone in the middle of the night, your brain thinks that it is the middle of the day, and doesn’t produce the melatonin required to put you to sleep.

Why is your phone in the bedroom?

Usually the answer to this question is one of the following (1) it’s my clock/ alarm (2) someone might need me (3) I use it for music/ meditation/ relaxation to get to sleep or (4) I like to look at Facebook/ YouTube/ my email before I go to sleep and/ or first thing in the morning.

So how can you change this? Some of these things are easier than others. Let’s start with number (4) because hopefully you’ve read the previous paragraph as to why your phone interferes with your sleep and you do actually care about your own wellbeing so this one should be an easy one to drop! There are so many other times of day when you can stay up to date with the outside world, and right before sleep it is simply not necessary! It will all still be there in the morning!

You need an Alarm Clock

Next in order of easiest things to deal with is that you use your phone for telling the time or waking you up in the morning. Have you ever heard of an alarm clock? Or even a watch? Go to your local op-shop and see if you can get yourself a good old fashioned alarm clock – this will do the job just perfectly! Even better is a Sunrise Clock, otherwise known as a Wake-up-light or Dawn simulator. These alarm clocks wake you up with a gradual brightening light – the sunrise effect – which is a natural cue for your body to reduce the production of melatonin and gradually increase the levels of cortisol and other hormones that help you get up and go. Sunrise clocks are so effective that they are classed as medical devices in Europe and they are used by people suffering insomnia, depression, fatigue and seasonal affective disorder.

Music or Meditation before Sleep

Look, I know I am always harping on about how you really should Meditate (check out my Blog and Video on this!), and it’s great if you have started incorporating this into your daily routine by using an app before bed. However there are a few things I would say about this.
Firstly, it is much better to meditate sitting up rather than lying down – the goal of meditation should not be to put you to sleep – rather than to put you in a deeply relaxed state where your mind is resting, as opposed to what happens during sleep where your body is resting but your mind is actually not! So do your meditation BEFORE you actually get into bed, and then when you’re done, leave the phone outside your bedroom.
Secondly, meditation is a great way to start your day – with a clear and balanced mind – so why not try changing the timing of your meditation practise. Thirdly – do you have an old iPod sitting in a drawer somewhere? Why not use this instead for listening to stuff before bed. That way you’re not tempted to check on anything else, because you can’t!!!

Someone Might Need You in the Middle of the Night

We all like to think that we’re indispensible and that whatever urgent problem that only we can fix could not possibly wait until the morning. But is that really true? Probably the only people who can really use this excuse are parents of teenagers, people with very ill family members, and those who work on call. If you still have a landline telephone make sure that whomever may need to contact you has that number instead. If you don’t then try to have your phone as far away from you as possible – perhaps even outside the bedroom door – where you will hear it if there is a real life emergency but you won’t be tempted to pick it up and check Facebook when you wake in the middle of the night because your 16 yo is not home yet! If you have to be available then turn off all your other notifications over night so that only the telephone app can disturb you.

Red Light District

If for any reason you do need to use your phone during the late evening or night then make sure you are using the Night Shift settings. This changes the background colouring of your screen to cut down the harmful blue light. If you don’t know how to change this on your phone then Google it (but not late at night!!!) If your device does not have these settings, then download free software called f.lux that does the same thing – changing the colour of the display according to the time of day!

So folks, when it comes to bedtime (or for best practice, an hour before you want to be going to sleep) PUT THE PHONE DOWN AND BACK AWAY!!!

If you have done all of that and you are still struggling with sleep then check out my Blog and Video on essential oils that are helpful for sleep, or book a Reiki Session. Reiki is wonderful for improving the quality and quantity of sleep because it brings about balance in all energetic levels – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual – thus taking your body to a place where it can heal itself, especially through delicious sleep!

If you have any queries about any of this, or anything else to do with your Wellbeing, please contact me!


Digital Elephant in the Bedroom