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Is Your Smartphone Turning You Into a Zombie?

Have you ever considered that your smartphone may be the beginning and end of your day?

Many people are guilty of checking their phone as soon as they hop into bed and it might even be the first thing they do when they wake up.

With constant notifications from social media, sound effects from emails and vibrations from text messages, it’s becoming increasingly harder to put that demanding hand held device down for the night.

Kiwis spend the equivalent of two working days a week starting at their screen – and the device of choice is a smartphone, rather than a tablet[1].

But if you’re struggling to sleep uninterrupted or you feel exhausted all the time, it’s time to face the fact that your iPhone is turning your room into a zombie zone.

After all, there’s not much point in making an effort to go to bed early in an effort to get a decent sleep, only to gaze into an electronic screen long past your desired bedtime.

Put simply, electronics and sleep don’t mix. When you check your phone at night, you’re actually sending a stream of photons into your eyes, which tells your brain not to secrete melatonin – the hormone which makes you drowsy.

That’s right - scrolling through Instagram, tweeting late at night and watching mindless videos and memes on Facebook could be the reason why you’re always sleepy, or why it takes you so long to fall asleep.

Research shows that people who get the appropriate amount of sleep on a regular basis tend to live longer, healthier lives than those who sleep too few or even too many hours each night[2].

In a nutshell, it’s difficult to dream if you’re glued to a screen. But don’t fret – there are proactive measures you can take to ensure you’re phone-free and ready to snooze at your optimal bedtime.

How to get sleep by putting your phone to bed

It’s all about your bedtime routine.

Shower? Check. Brushed your teeth? Check. Your next move should be to set an alarm if need be and then comes the important part - step away from the phone!

As tempting as it might be to check the rugby scores or read the latest game analysis, you’ll be doing yourself no favours if you take your phone to bed with you.

You might want to place the phone in a nearby room so you are still woken by the alarm, or better yet, buy a traditional alarm clock so you’re not dependant on your device.

Free Sleep Diary

How can I wind down in a way that encourages a good night’s sleep?

Even if you’re doing well and have shut off all electronics before you hit the sack, chances are you’re still quite alert and need something to help calm down you’re able to sink into a satisfying slumber.

There are some recommended tips to try to help your mind switch off:

  • Have a regular bedtime. It’s a no-brainer. Getting up and going to bed at the same time each day has impressive benefits on your sleep cycle as it syncs your internal clock. So pick a time which will give you at least eight hours’ rest and make sure you start to unwind up to an hour beforehand.
  • Use your bed for sleep and intimacy. That means put away the paperwork, turn off the TV and save responding to people’s text messages until the next day. If you reserve your bed for sleep and intimacy alone, you’re more likely to associate it with a place of rest.
  • Be mindful. You don’t need to go as far as counting sheep, but focusing on good and positive thoughts will help put your mind at ease. It’s difficult to doze off when you’re anxious and stressed.
  • Read a book. Sure your mind will be working, but engaging with a story is the perfect way to take your mind off the day’s events and get lost in an intriguing plot. Just make sure that you’re reading a paper book and not an electronic tablet!
  • Soothe the senses. A pre-sleep routine will automatically alert your mind to wind down if done consistently. Grab a decaffeinated tea and take a warm bath – your body will soon recognise the routine and start to relax like clockwork[3].

Once you try these methods, you can track their impact by monitoring how you feel when you wake up and how much energy you have throughout the day.

Still not feeling reinvigorated? Complete our free online sleep assessment to see if your symptoms are associated with a sleep disorder, such as the most common disorder, sleep apnea.

We’d also suggest you do additional reading by downloading our eBook ‘8 ways to sleep better tonight’ which is full of tips to help you rest easier.