Research shows that more than 60% of adults sleep with their phone plugged in by the bedside table. The easy solution? Don’t sleep with your phone in your bedroom. Unfortunately, it’s not necessarily that simple. Our smartphones in many cases are our alarm clocks, control our home security, have replaced our home phones, control other smart technology (ex. baby monitor), and more.
So if the majority of us sleep with our smartphones in our bedrooms, what can we do to better protect our sleep?
Turn off all notifications, except those from people.
Notifications can be helpful when they let you know something important needs your attention, like a text from your child or an urgent email from your boss. But most notifications are sent by machines, not people. And they're designed to draw you into interacting with an app you might not otherwise prioritize. So be sure to go into your phone's settings to turn off notifications on everything except messaging apps or other crucial tools.
Consider using your phone’s 'Do Not Disturb' feature.
Most smartphones these days have a Do Not Disturb feature that allows you to mute all calls, alerts, and notifications on your device. You can manually turn on the feature at any time or schedule a specific time for it to be on (ex. say overnight from 10pm-7am). You can also customize to allow certain contacts to interrupt you (ex. a call from your child).
Turn on your night shift mode.
Smartphone screens emit bright blue light so you can see them even at the sunniest times of day. But at night, your brain gets confused by that light, as it mimics the brightness of the sun. This causes the brain to stop producing melatonin, a hormone that gives your body the "time to sleep" cues. Because of this, smartphone light can disrupt your sleep cycle, making it harder to fall and stay asleep. While not a replacement to turning off your screen before bedtime, turning on night shift mode does change your screen to emit a gentler, less blue light.
As for your children, we always advocate a gradual release of responsibility approach to Digital Wellness. When your children first get a smartphone, not having it in the bedroom at night is key. Once you start to allow them to have it in their bedroom (like the majority of adults do), you can consider starting with restrictions on their phone: How to Turn Kids' Phones Off at Night
Below are some additional articles and resources if you want to learn more about how you can better protect your sleep.
10 Ways to Help Your Kid Get a Good Night's Sleep from Common Sense Media
The Impact of Technology on Sleep from Global News
Teens Getting Less Sleep with Rise of Smartphones from CBC News