Do you remember the last time you plopped onto your mattress without a phone or tablet in hand—or at least, within arm’s reach?
If you can’t remember, you’re not alone. A whopping 90% of us regularly use devices within the hour before bed. And science suggests these late-night screen sessions do no favors for your sleep.
That’s why we’re proposing something pretty radical: a tech-free bedroom. Sure, it might seem a little extreme now. But after learning some more, you might be open to giving it a try.
Why a Tech-Free Bedroom Makes Sense
Here are four legit reasons to establish a tech-free bedroom of your own.
1. The light is like a visual form of caffeine.
Sure, reading a paper book or magazine before bed helps make your eyelids feel heavy. But scrolling through your phone, tablet, or computer almost guarantees the opposite effect, keeping you up longer.
That’s because electronic devices emit blue light, a type of light that actually suppresses your body’s production of the sleep hormone melatonin. As a result, you feel more awake and experience a harder time dozing off even after you put your device away.
And the sleep-wrecking qualities prove hard to ignore. Eesearchers compared the sleep quality of subjects who read on devices before bed to those who read paper books. They found device users secreted less melatonin. They also felt less sleepy at night, took longer to fall asleep, had shorter REM cycles, and were more tired the next day.
Is your bedtime Instagram check really worth all of those downsides? Didn’t think so.
2. Devices bring work-related stress to bed.
It’s no secret that technology makes it easy to tackle work-related stuff anytime, anywhere.
And sometimes, it’s necessary to occasionally check email, update social media, or wrap up a project once you get home at night. But bringing all that stuff into your bedroom often might leave you a little crazy. And very much awake.
In a survey of nearly 2,000 workers, the London-based Future Work Center found that one of the most stressful habits related to email was checking it late at night. At best, getting an email from your boss at 11:00 PM snaps your brain back into work mode. And at worst, it leaves you totally stressed out. Either way, you likely enjoy a harder time falling sleep.
The solution? Pick a time long before plopping down onto your comfortable mattress to do a final email check, and leave your devices outside of your room when you head in to bed. Even with your push notifications turned off, you might still have the urge to check your emails manually. By establishing a tech-free bedroom, you nix the temptation altogether.
3. Devices force you to deal with a constant case of FOMO.
Even if, by some miracle of mental compartmentalization, you manage to keep all work-related stuff off of your devices at night, you’re still dealing with sleep-stealing stress from your social life.
Sure, it might not necessarily have the same urgent feeling as a work emergency. Deep down, you know that the stuff you see on social media when you’re scrolling through your phone before bed comes from careful posing, artful curation, and in no way represents real life.
And yet, seeing your friends vacationing on some exotic beach, or your old college roommate humble-bragging about her amazing new job, or your friends across the country taking selfies kind of guarantees anxious and crummy feelings.
And who needs that before going to bed?
4. If nothing else, they just make you stay up later.
Maybe you’re the unicorn whose ability to fall asleep is totally unaffected by blue light. Perhaps you exemplify the art of work-life balance, and check your email 20 minutes before bed without getting wound up. Maybe you’re so secure in who you are that you feel nothing but pure, unadulterated happiness for all of your friends when you scroll through your social feeds.
If that’s the case, great. (In fact, amazing. Can we hang out and pick your brain?)
But here’s the thing. Even if you say with 100% certainty that your devices don’t impact your ability to fall asleep when you try to close your eyes, using your device in bed almost certainly still means that you’re wasting time on the Internet that you should be spending on sleep.
Yup, sleep procrastination, or staying up for pretty much no meaningful reason, is a real thing. What’s more, findings show that most of us are guilty of it, and the biggest time suck is—you guessed it!—watching shows or using social media.
And let’s get real. Even if you put your phone on your nightstand and try to read a paper book since it’s only a matter of time before you reach for it and start scrolling again.
So just keep it out of your room. Sure, it may feel strange at first. But after a couple of tech-free nights, you might find yourself more energized and refreshed than you’ve been in a while.
About the author
Mitchell Tollsen is a graduate student and a freelance writer who’s contributed to the Early Bird blog for three years. Mitchell’s always been fascinated by the science of sleep and the restorative processes our bodies undergo when at rest. The self-titled “Sleep Expert” is always looking for ways to improve his shut-eye, and throughout the years has implemented numerous lifestyle changes and tried dozens of sleep-promoting gadgets to determine the best ways to truly get better rest.View all posts