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