Technology is constantly at our fingertips, tempting us to watch just one more Youtube video, scroll through just one more person’s feed, or read one more blog on the best way to get in shape.
If you suffer from poor sleep, technology could be the main culprit. We’ll dig into how technology upsets your sleep cycle and how a digital curfew may help improve your quality of sleep.
How Technology Can Ruin Your Sleep
Having quick access to technology can be great — we can get helpful answers instantly, a friend is always just a few keystrokes away, and having the option of entertainment apps can enhance your life.
But, technology can also cause a lot of harm, particularly when it becomes an obsessive habit, particularly right before going to sleep.
How many times have you decided to look at just one more picture on Facebook, only to find yourself unbelievably curious about your friend’s cousin’s sister’s feed at 4 AM?
Addiction to technology can make it impossible to get to sleep at a decent hour. Before you know it two, three, four, or more hours have flown by and now there’s no chance for your body to get a good night’s rest. Ending this cycle before it becomes a habit is best, but a digital curfew can help you kick this bad habit.
In addition to over-utilizing technology, there are other ways that screens can ruin your sleep. Blue lights emitted from phones and screens has been scientifically proven to ruin your sleep chemistry, disrupting the flow of melatonin, straining your eyes, and ruining your natural circadian sleep cycles.
From actual addictions to technology to scientific evidence showcasing screens can be biologically harmful, there are many reasons why technology may be destroying your sleep schedule.
Setting a digital curfew is a great way to limit the way you use technology at night, so you can finally get a good night’s sleep.
What is a Digital Curfew?
A digital curfew is exactly what it sounds like — a curfew you set where you’re unable to use technology for the rest of the night. This means no texting, no binge watching FRIENDS in bed, no TV, no working, and no video games.
In general, you should aim to set your curfew at least two hours before your bedtime. The basic concept behind a digital curfew is to treat bedtime like a ritual, the way you did when you were a kid.
This could mean signing off from technology at 8 PM, enjoying a relaxing bath or warm shower, practicing self-care as you prepare for bed, then curling up with a book until you fall asleep. Everyone goes to bed at a different time and has different needs, so don’t expect your routine to mirror someone else’s.
You might spend your time before bed preparing for the next day — packing lunches, doing the dishes, or choosing your outfit. The main point is to try to relax and unwind, without screens. It’s best to opt for peaceful practices, but sometimes, your routine might involve taking out the trash and scooping the cat litter.
Tips for Implementing a Successful Digital Curfew
Sticking to a digital curfew can be a challenge, but after a few nights of great sleep, you’ll likely find this practice is easier than you imagined. Here are a few tips to help you along the way.
1. Set Curfews for Weeknights and Weekends
You might not have the same routine for weeknights and weekends, so setting different curfews to match with your lifestyle will ensure you continue to follow your curfew on the weekends, even after a fun night out with the girls.
2. Tell Everyone About Your Curfew
If you’re used to Snapchatting and texting into the late hours of the night, let your friends and family know you’re setting a digital curfew to help improve your sleep.
They’ll likely be very supportive, may decide to create their own digital curfew, and will be less likely to text you after your curfew.
3. Make a Few Exceptions
It’s not good to go into your digital curfew with exceptions in mind, but of course, you won’t be 100% successful every night. So, figuring out what you might need to use your phone or another screen for ahead of time, may be helpful.
For instance, I get anxious thinking about whether or not I’ve set my alarm, even though it’s always set. I need to glance at my phone’s clock just to make sure, otherwise, I won’t ever fall asleep.
If you need to check or set an alarm or verify the time of your first meeting tomorrow, allow yourself a quick glance. You can also turn on your white noise app when you’re ready to go to sleep. This does not mean you can also check the weather, send an email, or click on your unread texts, however.
You should try to handle all of these things before your curfew, but if the anxiety over not knowing if you’re getting up at the right time or if you remembered your alarm can make sleep impossible. So allow yourself minor concessions.
Likewise, if a friend or family member is going through a hard time and you know they might call or text for support, allow yourself the night to help them through their rough time.
Set your own limits on what is or is not an emergency. But if you find yourself back on your screens every night, you may need to reevaluate your limits.
4. Use Other Technology to Help
This sounds counter-intuitive, I know, but there are many great devices designed to help improve your sleep that can work hand-in-hand with your digital curfew.
White noise machines or even a fan can help you fall asleep more easily. Other devices like Dodow can help you rest more peacefully, by allowing you to synchronize your breathing, in order to fall asleep in under ten minutes.
There are also devices like Seraphin that help you set a digital curfew, turn your smartphone into a bedside lamp, and help you digitally detox.
It’s Time to Set Your Digital Curfew
Trying out a digital curfew can help you wake up feeling more refreshed and ready to take on the day. Digital curfews are great for improving your mental health by helping shift your perspective on technology from an all-consuming black hole to just a helpful aid.