31 Days

Day 4

Kick Yourself Off Your Phone at Bedtime

Why you shouldn't go to bed with your phone
Why you shouldn't go to bed with your phone

Don't worry. We're not about to tell you that you can't use your phone as your alarm clock or even that you can't take your phone into the bedroom at night. We understand that most of us rely on those alarms or worry that we might miss an important call or text. But if you're turning out the lights and getting under the covers with your computer, tablet or smartphone, you know you need to stop. Because that bad habit is no doubt hurting your sleep patterns, not to mention your sex life. Both of which, you want to be as healthy as possible, right?

Of course, you're not alone. The National Sleep Foundation reports that 90% of Americans are using a technological device during the hour before their bedtime—and the majority say they do it while lying in bed. But this, according to their researchers, “delays your body's internal clock (known as your circadian rhythm), suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, and makes it more difficult to fall asleep.”

This is why it's important to initiate a digital curfew. The NSF recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of gadget-free time before you get into bed. Before rolling your eyes and telling us that it's impossible, read these easy tips below. Then thank us as you realize how better rested (and more well-rounded) you feel next week.

Set your phone alarm

Set Your Alarm

To help initiate a good habit, set an alarm or reminder on your phone that it's time put down the device. If you got to bed at 11pm, set your reminder for 10. "Screen time is over. Enjoy your night," was how one Valet. staffer typed it into his phone. "Go to bed, damnit!" was another. Once that goes off, you can pick up a book or put on some music. Or sit down with your significant other and let the winding down begin.

Wireless phone charging

The Catch:3 wireless charger,
$175 by Courant

Wireless phone charging

The Catch:3 wireless charger,
$175 by Courant

Keep Your Phone
Out of Reach

"Sleeping with your phone in or near your bed can increase compulsive behavior, depressed mood and anxiety," says New York-based psychologist Heather Silvestri, Ph.D. "Continuously accessing social media has been associated with poorer mood and an overall uptick in anxiety—and when your phone is within eyeshot of your bed, you can easily start fretting about whether others will like or comment on what you've posted instead of disengaging in order to fall asleep."

For the strongest among us, you may want to charge your phone overnight in a room away from the bedroom. But if you still prefer to use it as your alarm clock, you can, just keep it on the other side of the room, preferably face down to prevent any distractions from alerts that may pop up. This is a decidedly more analog solution than the first three, but no less effective, provided you have the discipline to put it into practice.

Felix Gray - Blue Light Blocking Eyewear

Turing eyeglasses
with blue light filter,
$95 by Felix Gray

Block Out Blue Light

You've likely heard about the negative effects of blue light. Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night. "The light throws the body's biological clock out of whack," according to findings by Harvard Medical School. "Worse, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity."

That's why if you're going to be staring at your screen after sundown, utilize your device's night mode or wear a pair of blue light-blocking glasses. But keep in mind that neither of these solutions prevent the pulse-quickening effects of reading a worrying email or watching an exciting movie.

Apple iOS do not disturb setting
Apple iOS do not disturb setting

Put the Technology
to Work

If you prefer not to turn off your alerts but would still like to keep things quiet while you sleep, consider switching on your phone's Airplane mode or Do Not Disturb setting. For your computer, utilize apps like Shutter, which can automatically turn off your Windows computer at a set time each day. Apple computers have automated startup and shutdown options built right into the "Energy Saver" section of their System Preferences.

Bedtime Alternatives

Use your time before going to sleep as an opportunity for self-care, instead of mindlessly scrolling on a screen.

There There: A Novel by Tommy Orange

Read a (physical) book

(There There: A Novel by Tommy Orange shown above)

Apply a sheet mask
Make a to-do list for the next day
Use a teeth-whitening strip