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  • calebland

Sleep Habits—Say Goodbye to Your Phone

Updated: Nov 16, 2023



Hopefully you read my last blog about procrastination—and maybe you learned something.


This time, I want to assist you with disposing of another bad habit that we are all likely guilty of: sleeping next to your smartphone.


It may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but having our phones accessible to us throughout the night takes a mental and physical toll on all of us.


So, first, let’s look at how my phone has affected me throughout my teen and young adult years. Hopefully, after reading this, you will have good insight as to what habits you may need to change.


Background


I first acquired a smartphone when I was in middle school. Living with parents who set high disciplinary standards, I was never allowed to sleep near my phone or use it after a certain time at night.


When I went to bed, I would place my phone on the charger on the opposite end of my room so that there was no way I could reach it. Not only was it not accessible to me if I wanted to reach over and check it in the middle of the night, but being on my phone was not the last thing I did before falling asleep.


When I woke up in the morning, it would remain out of reach. This was especially beneficial when I got up for school—when my alarm went off, I would have to get out of my bed to turn it off. Me already being up, it was easier to get ready instead of having snoozed my alarm while still lying in bed.


In college, these habits changed, however. Little had I realized the benefits of my parents’ disciplinary standards. Now that I was on my own and that I had a new room to myself, I found it more convenient to place my phone on the shelf beside my bed.


I first started to form the habit of using my phone just before going to sleep. I’d be staring at my bright screen as I slowly started to drift away. I found myself having more headaches in the morning—I would also feel nauseated as I fell asleep once I turned the screen off.


Not only was this causing minor, short term health consequences, but later, I would soon suffer worse things.


The Science


Take a look at this video below. It mainly covers the health consequences that may be associated with sleeping by your cellphones.


https://youtu.be/gTvEsOE_LOE



The most alarming part of the video was where it discussed that there could be a correlation between cellphone usage and cancer. This is not the focus of this blog, so I encourage you to do some research on your own about this—I have no expertise in that area.


I want to focus on the more relatively short-term consequences that you can easily avoid.


A while after starting this bad habit, not only did I feel more nauseated just before and after sleeping, but I found myself waking up more often in the middle of the night. This is what got me in trouble with my mental health.


Have you ever been attracted to someone and wondering when they are going to reply to your text? Have you ever just kept constantly checking if they have seen your message?


I think that with phones existing, they have already made attractions toxic enough. When we go to bed, and if there is anything, not just attractions, that is making us anxious, we naturally want to keep checking our phones.


This interferes with our circadian rhythm, as the video above also explains. It makes us lose more sleep than we realize.



It also seems that depression is a common result of nighttime phone usage. See the figure here. Scientific Reports conducted this intensive study recently, and they provide some useful data.




While depression and anxiety did not continue to increase with prolonged nighttime phone usage, I think it’s safe to say there is still some correlation. However, from my experience, depression and anxiety can fluctuate based on the situation.


All the unhealthy situations that already occur from accessing phones are only made worse when they interfere with your sleep.


With my phone always by my side in bed, I slept less and less, and my anxiety skyrocketed. I also found myself lying in bed for prolonged periods in the morning because I could easily turn my alarm off.


I played the dangerous game, too—I didn’t snooze my alarm. I just turned it off completely.


I also believe that our brains are not wired to be able to handle overloads of information just before going to sleep and just after waking up. When our phones are within reach, we have that option to flood our minds with whatever we want on our bright screens. During that time, we really should be clearing/preparing our minds when we go to sleep/get up, respectively.


Implications


So, my main point in this blog is to offer a friendly recommendation. Simply keep your phone out of reach when you go to bed. Make it to where you must stand up and walk to get your phone.


When I realized that my health consequences stemmed from this bad habit, I changed it. While not all my problems disappeared, I found myself much happier and healthier.


When you go to bed without your phone, it will allow your brain to prepare for sleep. During this time, you can meditate, or pray if you are religious. Your brain will calmly drift into sleep as it is supposed to.


When you wake up, you are forced to get up to turn your alarm off, keeping you from snoozing your alarm and making yourself late.


It’s kind of funny if you think about it—our phones need to be plugged in to recharge, but our brains need to stay unplugged to recharge.


I would like to keep my blogs consistent with the theme of helping you live a better life. From college student to college student, I hope that you will take heed to the friendly advice I’ve given and that you can improve habits in your hectic lives.


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