How to Sleep Better by Putting Technology Away

We look at how technology can impact your sleep and offer tips on how to create better bedtime habits.

Whether it’s sending some last-minute work emails, scrolling through your friends’ latest posts on social media or watching TV, many of us are guilty of taking some form of technology with us into our bedrooms. 

A 2014 Australian study on sleep habits, undertaken by the Sleep Health Foundation, found that 45 per cent of those surveyed regularly watched TV or used a laptop or electronic devices in bed.

The trouble with technology 

The main problem with using devices such as TVs, computers, tablets and smartphones just before we go to sleep is that they emit blue light. Blue light is handy during the day as it boosts attention as well as reaction times and moods, but it can be disruptive at night. 

A study conducted by Harvard Medical School found that blue light suppresses the body’s natural sleeping hormone, melatonin, and can also throw out the circadian rhythm (body clock). 

Putting boundaries on your bedroom

Dr Gillian Rawlings, a practising Bupa GP, agrees that going technology-free in the bedroom can help combat interrupted sleep. She suggests banning screens in the bedroom, turning phones off and following the rule that your bed is only for sex and sleep.
people watching tv in bed

Easy ways to help yourself

Following these tips may help you get a better night’s sleep.
  • Try to follow a routine. Wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day, when you can.
  • Make sure your bedroom is comfortable. Ensure it is dark, quiet, well ventilated and not too hot or cold.
  • Be active. Exercise regularly (but not too close to bedtime) and try to spend some time outside every day.
  • Give yourself around 30 minutes to wind down and relax before you go to bed. For example, try meditation or take a bath.
  • Cut back on your daily caffeine intake – this means caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, energy drinks and soft drinks – and avoid consuming them in the afternoon and evening.
  • Try to avoid daytime naps. If you have to take naps, keep them short and try not to take them after the early afternoon.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol to excess, particularly before going to bed.
  • Don’t sit in front of your computer late into the evening.
  • Don’t eat, work or discuss problems in bed; follow the ‘sleep and sex’ rule for your bedroom.
  • Avoid heavy meals too late in the evening.
Put aside the technology and try to wind down before bed with a cup of herbal tea, a hot bath and a chat. You should sleep better for it.
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