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No Screens Before Bed Challenge

When it comes to sleep, most people already know and have been told how important it is.

The benefits can not only extend to feeling more rested and energetic the next day, but can also lead to better cognitive function and help you to live longer.

As sleeping has all these benefits and takes up nearly a third of our entire lives, you would think people would be doing everything they can to get enough of it, right?

Well, not quite. Many studies show that nearly a third of American adults aren’t sleeping enough.

That is, they aren’t getting the recommended at least seven hours of sleep to properly maintain a healthy lifestyle. (This is generally speaking; I do realize that some people can be healthy with less sleep).

Perhaps even more important then, while some people get the right quantity of sleep, their quality of sleep is poor.

Poor quality of sleep can come from many factors such as work/life stress, noisy environment, room temperature and a whole host of other factors.

One big deterrent to quality sleep may be thanks to the modern age. There is mounting evidence that the blue light emitted from modern gadgets such as smart phones, computers and tablets have the effect of giving the user poorer sleep quality.

It is with this last fact in mind that for the month of May I’m starting a challenge for myself to limit my exposure to this blue light prior to bedtime.

No Screens Before Bed Challenge

I have noticed in my own life that since the middle to end of college, I have not gotten the best quality of sleep.

Sure I get too bed on time and usually will get more than 7 hours, but often times I’ll have trouble falling asleep or I will wake up frequently in the middle of the night.

Is it a coincidence that around that time period is when I got my first smart phone?

My nightly routine oftentimes involves lying in bed and looking at my phone as I’ll scroll through social media or play some type of game , (and now stay up to write blog posts).

I’m not ready to say my poor quality of sleep is solely because of looking at smart phones, there are many more stressors in my life now than there were earlier in my life, but I am intrigued to find out if what I’ve been reading for years actually works.

In all honesty, I have actually tried this type of thing several times in the past, but I would usually last no longer than a night or two at most. The pull (or addiction?) of smart phones and keeping up on social media have been just too much.

I don’t think a night or two is enough to evaluate if no blue light before bed is really beneficial or not and thus want to experiment over an extended period of time.

Hence, the No Screens Before Bed Challenge!

The Challenge

For the month of May, my goal is to not look at any blue light devices for one hour prior to going to bed. This includes smart phones, computers, tablets and TVs or anything else that emits blue light.

Thus, since I usually wake up around 6:30-6:45 for work I am planning to put my smart phone away, on the other side of my room, covered by a soft surface (so I can’t hear if it vibrates), at 9:30 every night.

I’ll also go into my room at this time as my roommate sometimes will have the TV playing in our living room.

This would allow me to go to bed around 10:30 (when I usually try to get to bed anyways) which would give me a perfect 8 hours of sleep.

These specific parameters are really for Sunday – Thursday night, (as Friday and Saturday night I stay up a bit later and wake up later), but the essence remains the same – no screens or blue light an hour before bedtime.

What I Hope to Gain From This Challenge

While getting better sleep is the main goal for the challenge, there are several other things I hope to accomplish as well.

Because I’m looking at my phone and computers so much, that has left little time to focus on some of my other goals for the year.

With that hour before bed with no screens, I hope to try meditation more seriously as well as stretching and yoga to de-stress and relax.

In addition, I’ve only read two books so far this year (I should be at 4 according to my goals, sad, I know), and thus hope to get more reading time to catch up while lying in bed prior to falling asleep.

I also use my phone as my alarm, meaning I have it right next to my nightstand. Oftentimes the last thing I look at prior to bed is my phone, and the first thing I look at when I wake up is my phone.

Typing that out made me realize how addictive (is that the right word?) smart phones can really be. Putting my phone across the room and using the alarm on my actual alarm clock on my nightstand should remedy this.

Lastly, since I began blogging, there have been many nights where I’ve stayed up late to finish writing out blog posts.

I hope with this challenge it drives to me make better use of the time I have to look at screens to get ahead and write so I don’t need to stay up late to finish posts.

Writing out posts with free time on the weekend will be essential. One other method I am going to try is to write posts all or partially on my phone.

I first saw this over at Tread Lightly, Retire Early and thought it was worth giving a try! Now I can write the post in sections, and potentially even when I take a break or at lunch during work hours.

Join the Fun!

Taking on this challenge has me pretty excited.

I’m genuinely curious to see if this will help with my quality of sleep. Even if it doesn’t though, I think the added benefits from putting my phone down for an hour each night will be worth it alone.

I’ll be excited to share the results and my findings!

If you have trouble getting good quality of sleep, maybe this challenge is also for you! I’d love to have some company to share talk through how it is going 🙂

Erin at Reaching for FI is also going to be attempting this (see her post here), so follow her to see how it works for her as well!

I’ll most likely be posting updates on Twitter, so you can follow along and interact there, but also feel free to contact me if you’d like to let me know you’re trying it, I’d love to see how it works for you all as well!

We spend a lot of time trying to “hack” our waking hours to be efficient, productive and healthy. Why should we not try to make our sleeping hours the same way?

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Have you ever tried something like this before? If so, how did it go and what strategies did you use to help accomplish that?

13 thoughts to “No Screens Before Bed Challenge”

  1. Do you use Do Not Disturb mode on your phone? I’m probably about to explain something you already know about, but in case you don’t, you can set it to turn on at a certain time at night so your phone doesn’t vibrate/the screen doesn’t light up when you get a notification. I’ve got it set for when I go to bed (the only way I can have my phone in my room since any vibration on even a soft surface would be enough to wake me up), but I’ll go ahead and switch that to an hour earlier. Thanks for reminding me to switch my morning alarms over to my Fitbit this month! I suspect I’ll need to just not have in my phone in my room period for the next week or so to avoid the temptation of “just checking in” when I shouldn’t be!

    1. I’ve actually never used that feature! I can usually sleep through any buzzes unless it’s right as I’m falling asleep, but I like this better so that way I don’t have to bury my phone in my drawers haha

  2. I actually tried this last night, but for a slightly different reason. I use the alarm on the phone as well, plus the alarm on the clock next to my bed.

    My problem is that I set the alarm for 7:00 and then I stay in bed for 30 or 40 minutes, adjusting the alarm to 7:30 or 7:40. I do this because I’m not a morning person and I love every minute of sleep that I can get. 🙂 However, this leads to me rushing through a shower and gathering up my food for the day before leaving. Deep down I know I can get away with this so I do it, but it’s not efficient and makes me push to get to work on time. If the traffic is heavier than usual, I’m a couple minutes late. This also forces me to eat breakfast at work, which is usually a glass of lemon water, a cup of green tea, a whole wheat english muffin, banana and protein shake consumed over the course of an hour or so at my desk (instead of at home).

    By placing my phone on the other side of the room, I am forced to get out of bed to turn off the alarm. In theory this will get me going right at 7am!

    I also have a tendency to scroll through the phone while laying in bed. I don’t have trouble falling asleep, but this will eliminate that and maybe get me a few more minutes of sleep. Challenge accepted!

    1. Ah yep.. I know that experience of snoozing the alarm all too well. That’s a good idea as well though! I’m hoping for similar results just by moving my phone away from the nightstand. Hopefully instead of scrolling through my phone to wake up I’ll just get up naturally. Looking forward to seeing how it goes for you!

  3. This is an awesome challenge! I don’t even own an alarm clock though, and while I read dozens of books yearly it is now on a kindle so even that doesn’t get me away from the blue lights. 🙁 it would be a huuuuuge lifestyle shift for me to take this on. but I’ll be following your and Erins journey to see if it’s worth it!

    1. That’s fair! It’s definitely not for everyone, and may not even be ideal long term for me either, but I figured I wanted to give it a shot to see how it works and if there’s anything greater I can learn from it!

  4. I’ve done this challenge before myself and I really couldn’t tell if it helped. I generally only use a screen at night when reading on my tablet, and my little secret has been to adjust the Kindle-app so that it’s a black background with white text. With that setting the light coming from the tablet is very minimal, and I don’t think it affects me too much but I can’t quantify that. I think it works because most nights I can only red this way for 10 – 20 minutes before I’m falling asleep and dropping the tablet!

    1. That sounds like it works to me! I’m hoping it works out, but even if it doesn’t, I feel like it’s a good habit in general to put the phone away and spend some time doing other things prior to bed anyways

  5. Cheating, since I kind of already do this thanks to the bedtime routine with the kiddo involving pjs, teeth brushing, books, and chatting in bed (he sleeps with us). And we go to bed with him, so I usually get 8-9 hours of sleep, which is more what I need to be fully rested. Counter intuitive maybe, but I’m more rested with a toddler than I was pre kid, because he’s forced us to a regular routine.

    1. Ooo interesting! I feel like you should write some kind of post of that: the unintended benefits of having a kiddo! I feel like I haven’t seen that too often (If there are others of course 😉)

  6. Came by this post just now. So it’s a bit late to take it up for May, but I’ll try this for June. I’ve been thinking of reducing screen time, which naturally happens in the summer.

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