Are you tired all day, falling asleep on the tube on your way home, but then wide awake as soon as you get in bed? Does this sound familiar to you? If so, it might be time for you to digitally detox your life and break your smartphone habit.
A digital detox is a great way to stay productive and balanced in a wired world. A University of Leeds study has found almost a quarter of 30 to 50-year-olds are getting less than five hours sleep a night and it’s the increasing demands of modern life, social media and connected technologies which are affecting the quality and quantity of people’s sleep.
It’s a fact. Many of us are addicted to our smartphones. The power of our phones is immense and can be all-consuming, to the point you are not comfortable unless you are staring in to a glowing screen, whilst scrolling up and down. Hours are lost doing this, which is bad enough, but the real damage is inflicted when we are glued to our devices instead of going to bed.
Breaking your phone habit throughout the day will make you less tempted to reach for it when you should be preparing yourself for a good night’s sleep.
Here are some tips to help you break this habit.
Give yourself a cut-off point. I try to turn everything off an hour before I want to be asleep. This is normally 11 pm. All I have is a book to keep me company. Light can interfere with sleep and your body’s rhythms and the blue light emitted by electronics is especially disruptive. This includes the screen on your phone, tablet, computer, or TV. If you don’t want to turn your devices off entirely, you can minimise the impact by using devices with smaller screens, turning the brightness down, or using light-altering software such as f.lux, which adjusts the colour of your display according to your room light.
Interestingly, iPhone users will soon be able to adjust the colour of their display with ios 9.3’s new Night Shift feature. Android users have been able to use the Twilight app to achieve the same effect for some time.
If like me, you use your phone as an alarm in the morning, charge it overnight on the other side of your room. This way, you’re not tempted to reach for it in the middle of the night if you can’t sleep. It will also force you to get out of bed when the alarm goes off rather than hitting snooze over and over again. If this is too extreme for you, put your phone on silent and/turn the notifications off. No more sleeping with your phone under your pillow, on your face, or on your bedside table.
One of the things that makes your phones so irresistible to check are the noises and vibrations your it gives off whenever you receive a new message, email or a comment on your Facebook post. You’re conditioned to immediately pick up your phone as soon as you hear the sound. This can turn into quite a bad habit as you may find yourself constantly glancing at your phone in mere anticipation of incoming notifications. It’s hard to be present and focused on the task at hand when you’re eyeing your smartphone every ten seconds. It’s very easy for this repetitive checking of your phone to become a habit which you didn’t realise you had.
If you’re feeling really brave, or you still have the itch to pick up your phone to check emails or other apps, all you need to do is turn off your data and wifi for an undisturbed night’s sleep.
Checky is an app which is available for iPhone and Android. It shows you how many times you’ve checked your smartphone in a day and allows you to compare stats on a day-to-day basis. Although it doesn’t show you how much time you’re spending on each app, just seeing how many times you pick up your phone and swipe the unlock screen can provide some much-needed perspective on your smartphone use.
Instead of scrolling through people’s Instagram photos when you are watching a programme on TV, put your phone away. When engaging in conversation with people, put your phone away.
If you find your phone is a distraction when you are at work, put your phone in drawer and give yourself set times for checking it – maybe once an hour or at lunch time. Obviously, if you use your phone for work purposes and calls, this will be a more difficult one to follow.
If you want to be hardcore, one day at the weekend, leave your phone at home while you go for a walk. If you are meeting someone with a phone, you can be safe in the knowledge that if you need to get hold of someone in an emergency, you can.
With one in three commuters travelling to work missing their stop through tiredness after staying up at night checking emails, texts and their social media, more time away from your smartphone and computers in the evening seems a good place to start to get your non-digital life back on track. Many people feel they are constantly trying to keep up with the pace of the digital world, which is dictating how we spend all of our time, including free time. Follow these tips to recharge, rest your mind and connect to the rhythms of nature.
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