Have you heard of sleep hygiene? I hadn’t either, until a doctor recently explained to me how critical it can be for your health and wellbeing. Sleep hygiene is a set of research-backed guidelines for good sleeping habits, and while many of them won’t surprise you, there’s one small change that we could all be benefiting from. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with every other sleep hygiene guide I’ve read, recommend removing all electronic devices from the bedroom. Smart phones, laptops, TVs, tablets, all of it – and it’s not just because of the blue light. Doctors recommend that we don’t use devices, eat, work on laptops, or even read in bed so that our bodies can learn to associate our beds with sleep. We all know we shouldn’t be on our phones before bed, but studies show that over 80% of us are using our phones within the hour before we sleep, and 89% use them within an hour of waking up.
The solution is to charge all of your devices in a different room before going to bed. It’s simple, but powerful. Arianna Huffington even puts her devices to bed, in an actual miniature bed, so as not to bring her to-do lists and work stress to bed with her. “The idea is human beings learn through ritual and the charging station lives outside everybody’s bedrooms,” Huffington told CNBC. You may not need the mini bed, but if you have your phone charger plugged in near your nightstand, try moving it outside of the room. Make putting your phone away for the night a part of your nighttime ritual to signal to your brain and body that it’s time to wind down. And get an alarm clock.
I have device addiction – and judging by the recent conversations I’ve been having, it seems I’m not alone. Here’s one small, doctor-recommended change you can make that will create a little distance from your device and help you sleep better.