Unplugged: How to Kick Your Bedtime Phone Habit

Written by Nicole Najafi — June 15, 2019

You’re lying in bed with the lights off, your face lit up by the bright white glow of your phone screen, and your eyes following an endless scroll of selfies, sunsets, and perfectly styled tablescapes. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. It turns out that a whopping 71% of Americans sleep with their smartphones next to their bed. It’s often the last thing we look at before falling asleep and the first thing we look at when we wake up — it’s a full blown love affair. But the romance isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. We’re sleeping less than we ever have, and those numbers continue to plummet as smartphone usage skyrockets. An estimated 20% of Americans suffer from a sleep disorder, and that number is expected to climb.

It starts to make sense when you consider what happens to your brain and body during smartphone use. All those likes, comments, emails, texts, gifs, emojis, and whatever else comes through in the form of an alert or notification give your brain a tiny hit of dopamine. It’s a shot of euphoria, and your brain is wired to want more. The increase in screen time cuts into those precious seven hours needed for catching z’s. The blue light emitted from screens simulates daylight in our eyes. It’s as if you’ve tricked your body into thinking it’s still daytime when it’s actually time to sleep. This throws off our circadian rhythm and makes it hard to fall asleep.

Smartphones and sleep don’t mix. But we get that it’s hard to kick that blue light habit. Here are our 6 tips to reduce bedtime smartphone usage:

  1. Don’t sleep with your phone in your bedroom

It sounds simple, but it’s tough and takes a bit of discipline. It’s the surest way to reduce your bedtime phone usage. Plus, you’ll be less tempted to check your phone in the middle of the night, and you won’t waste your morning scrolling in bed, either. Who knows, you may even get out of bed and moving earlier.


  1. But if you must, switch to audio instead of video

If you can’t leave your smartphone outside your bedroom or if you really crave evening entertainment, try listening to music or a podcast instead of scrolling, reading emails, or watching videos. The light your smartphone emits is the harshest thing for your sleep, so sticking to audio will make a big improvement.


  1. Get an alarm clock

A common reason for needing to sleep with a smartphone is for its alarm clock. But remember life before smartphones when we all miraculously woke up when we needed to and got to where we needed to go on time? All thanks to the trusty alarm clock! You can even get a retro looking one to show off your smartphone-free lifestyle.


  1. Use this time to meditate

It can be hard to make time for meditation, so here’s your perfect chance. Bedtime is a great time to start up a meditation practice, or kick your current meditation practice into high gear. (Fun fact: our co-founder, Alex, is a meditation expert. Ask him anything in the comments!)


  1. Limit screen time with Moment

We’re a bit fan of apps like Moment and the iPhone’s Screen Time feature that allow you to set time limits to your phone and app usage. By the end of the day, you may be all out of minutes and be forced to abandon your phone earlier.


  1. Blue-light-blocking glasses

If all else fails and you have to scroll at night, do so with a pair of blue-light-blocking glasses. Blue light is most disruptive to us at night when we’re trying to fall asleep (because of that whole sunlight trickery thing mentioned above.) A pair of glasses like these will help to reduce the melatonin suppression from blue light, and improve your sleep quality.


Have a tip or trick that worked for you? Share it with your fellow hydraters in the comments!

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