What is the last thing you see before you go to sleep? You probably have your smartphone on your bedside table, just like me. That is okay, but don’t let it steal your precious sleep! Lack of sleep can cause serious medical conditions and it affects your ability to process information. Leave your smartphone on your bedside table but try these tips.
Tell me, what do you have on your bedside table? Let me guess. A lamp? A book? And your smartphone? Yes! You probably have your smartphone on your bedside table, just like me.
It would make sense to switch off that small device that constantly demands your attention. To mute that thing that you carry around with you all day before you go to bed. But we don’t switch it off. No, we take it to bed with us! And we keep checking our e-mail, social media and newsfeeds when we are in bed. For many, the little screen is the last last thing we see before we close our eyes and it is the first thing we see when we open them again in the morning.
That is probably one of the reasons that many people – especially teens – suffer from poor sleep these days. Research shows that adults need – on average – 8 hours of sleep each night. Teenagers need even more. Unfortunately we are getting less and less restful sleep. Caused by those little devices that are constantly screaming for our attention.
It is estimated that one in 3 of us now suffers from poor sleep. And sleep deprivation can have profound consequences on your physical health. Regular poor sleep can even cause serious medical conditions, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes. It even shortens our life expectancy.
Sleep and memory
We all know that lack of sleep makes us grumpy and heavily influences the quality of our work. But did you know that it also has consequences for your memory?
Yes, sleep is essential for learning and your memory. Research shows that sleep helps learning and memory in two ways.
First, a sleep-deprived person has trouble focusing attention which decreases the ability to learn.
Second, sleep is important for the consolidation of memory, which is essential for learning new information.
Learning and memory have three functions: acquisition, consolidation and recall of information.
Acquisition refers to the introduction of new information into the brain. Consolidation represents the processes by which a memory becomes stable. Recall refers to the ability to access the information after it has been stored. Each of these steps is necessary for proper memory function.
Leave your smartphone on your bedside table
Leave your smartphone on your bedside table. But don’t let it steal your precious sleep! Try these tips.
Use dark mode
In the evening, use the ‘dark mode’ (or something similar) on your smartphone or tablet. It will give your eyes some rest and the ‘blue light’ will not put your brain in ‘awake mode’.
Use flight mode or do not disturb
When you go to bed, put your phone on ‘flight mode’ or ‘do not disturb’. When you put it in ‘flight mode’, no messages or calls will get through. And when you put it in ‘do not disturb’, only important calls from people you know will get through (you can set this up yourself).
Resist the temptation to check your social media, mail or newsfeeds right before you go to sleep. They will still be there in the morning. Bad news or unexpected things may keep you awake.
Read a book
Pick a good book to read. Preferably a long story that will take several evenings or weeks to finish. Trust me, reading it will be something you’ll look forward to when you get in bed.
Do some relaxation exercises
Lie down, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Listen to the sounds around you. Try a body scan meditation.
Wake up without using your phone
Don’t check your phone for the first hour when you wake up. When you wake up, resist the temptation to immediately start checking all notifications, e-mails, social media and newsfeeds. First take care of yourself: wake up, wash, eat your breakfast and grab a coffee. Then check the messages on your phone.