Self-Care Hack: Give Yourself a Technology Curfew
Do you lay awake at night, begging your mind to turn off so you can finally fall asleep? Tossing and turning, adjusting the pillows, counting sheep or just cursing the sound of basically anything you hear because everything is keeping you awake….
I have always had a hard time falling asleep, no matter how tired I am. And since I had my first child last year, sleep has become as valuable as solid gold – think end of the rainbow pots of it kind of gold. So I decided to do something about it.
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The Science behind Sleep and Technology
According to the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine and Harvard Business Review, turning off your devices at least an hour before bed time can help you fall asleep faster and sleep better through the night. The biggest culprit? The blue wave-length light from devices with LED light (cell phones, tablets, etc.) increases cortisol in the brain and prohibits the production of melatonin, which is what we need in order to fall asleep.
So you can blame cortisol the next time you get sucked down a Facebook black hole.
My Technology Curfew
Now, none of this is wildly new information. BUT, like I said, I’m sleep deprived new parent level tired and I’m willing to try just about anything to squeeze in as many restful moments into my night as possible.
Desperate, but skeptical, I figured I would try it for a week and see what happened. I set an alarm on my phone for 8:30pm every night to remind myself to put it away (full disclosure: I didn’t turn my phone off. I’m not a psychopath. But I did turn it on silent and put it away, out of view.)
How it Went
At first, as expected, it sucked. It was weird and I literally didn’t know what to do with my hands. Every free second was spent correcting the auto-response of my arms to reach out for my phone. But honestly, that only lasted about half an hour on the first night. And then, truly, it felt amazing. It felt like freedom. Like fireworks and backyard BBQ kind of freedom. I began to look forward to 8:30pm (and not just because the baby was down for the night).
So what really happened? Was it worth it? Did you sleep better? GIVE ME ALL THE DEETZ!
Okay, okay, I hear you! I’ll get to it already.
Here’s the scoop, in 7 tidy bullet points:
1. It made me realize how often and how mindlessly I would check and scroll. I would check my email even though there were no alerts and I had just refreshed two minutes before. I would scroll through the SAME CONTENT on Instagram multiple times.
2. When I put my phone away and consciously decided to stop scrolling, I was far more present and engaged than ever. Even on nights I was sitting alone in front of the TV (don’t judge), I actually enjoyed the show more.
3. It made me realize how not present and engaged everyone else around me was (side eyeing my phone addicted husband). When you show up fully, it becomes clear when others aren’t all there. And honestly, it feels awful. And I was making other people feel that way all along.
4. I fell asleep way faster than normal. I kept wanting to think this was a coincidence, but I was already relaxed when I get into bed that it was easy to fall asleep. Normally I don’t begin the process of relaxing until my head hits the pillow. Which leads me to my next point…
5. I was way more relaxed in the evenings. I wasn’t holding on to frustrations from the day or anxieties about the next. It was as close to vacay mindset that I could get without actually going on vacation.
6. It made me want to up my evening routine (and by that, I mean, have one). Once my evenings started to be times I looked forward to, I wanted to capitalize on that. If it could feel this nice simply by putting my phone away, what else could I do to make it even better? I started implementing a few things that I think I’ll keep around on the regular (more about that later).
7. Putting my phone away gave me a sense of calm that I didn’t even realize I didn’t have. I would never have said that being on my phone made me anxious or tense. But experiencing such a sense of calm without it, made me realize that maybe it did.
What do my evenings look like now?
Well, I’ve decided to keep the ritual of putting my phone away an hour(ish) before bedtime. And I’ve added a few things, too.
When that alarm goes off, I set my phone aside and go wash my face. Something about that, to me at least, feels like I’m rinsing away the day and easing into the night.
I’ve also jumped onto the jade roller bandwagon and use that every evening after washing my face (pro-tip: keep your roller in the refrigerator for next level amazingness).
Then I brush my teeth, hop into some comfy clothes if I’m not in them already, and make a cup of tea. I’ve never been a big tea person, mostly because I’m not into warm drinks. But this Night Time tea has me feeling all sorts of ready for bed.
Most nights I’ll sit on the living room floor and stretch (another thing that signals the body that it’s time to relax), sipping my tea, and chatting with the husband or watching our favorite shows.
Before I get too drowsy, I like to write down my priorities for the next day, whether it’s just a quick to-do list or a full on hourly schedule. Getting it down on paper helps me to get it out of my head and stop stressing about it.
And before you now it, I’m drifting off to sleep for a restful night of sweet dreams (until of course, the baby wakes up – but that’s a whole different blog post).
What about you; would you turn your phone off before going to bed? What’s your go-to trick for better sleep?