3 Reasons to Turn Off Your Devices That Have Nothing to Do with Blue Light
Updated: Jul 8, 2022
Have you been following the experts’ advice to turn off your devices an hour before bed? Many will talk about how the blue light disrupts melatonin production (which is true) but I think these three reasons are more important for turning them off.
FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
When you hear the ding of a new notification, do you automatically reach for the phone to see what's happening?
When that little red bubble shows you've missed something, do you instantly open the app to see what it was about?
Do you find yourself scrolling incessantly unable to stop for hours?
These impulses to always be checking to see what is going on could be contributing to your inability to sleep.
As you scroll through social media and see your friends' and influencers' feeds full of trips, babies, and weddings and you feel like your life is so small by comparison.
This fear of missing out, of not having the same amazing life as you see on social media, can hurt your mood, increase your stress and anxiety, and keep you from going to bed on time or when you’re ready.
Setting boundaries around your social media is a good strategy – from limiting the time you spend on a specific app, to the specific hours you're allowed to be on them – can help you break the cycle that is keeping you glued to your device.
The Need to Always Be On
One of the challenges that have come with the advent of the smartphone is this inability to disconnect or put boundaries on your work time.
When the boss or client messages you at 8 pm because that's when they have the time to follow up on an email, instead of that message living on the desktop sitting in the office that you'll see in the morning, you get it on the device in your hand.
And then you think, “They know I get this on my phone, I better answer now.”
This happens in the evenings, on the weekends, and even when you're on vacation. Instead of fully disconnecting, you stay engaged and ready to act as soon as anyone needs you.
You have more difficulty shutting your mind down, which can lead to problems sleeping.
When you can't take the time away from work, ever, you risk burning yourself out. Your stress level stays elevated in this hyper-aware state. You have more difficulty shutting your mind down, which can lead to problems sleeping.
At the end of the day, it's important to take time to relax and prepare for bed. Shutting down from work is one of the things that should be turned off for at least an hour before trying to sleep.
If you're a boss, encourage your staff to turn off notifications to their work email at the end of the day. Better yet, instead of hitting send on your emails, hold them in draft and make it part of your morning routine to send them first thing.
If you are an entrepreneur, tell your clients that you will respond to emails or requests within 24 hours and turn off your notifications at a set time every day.
Taking a break between staying connected in work mode and going to sleep, will help your brain relax and be prepared for bed.
Stress is the number one reason people have trouble sleeping.
The problem with stress today is that 99.9% of our stress is psychological – like reading the nasty comment on your social media page, the divisiveness in the discourse, the constant bombardment of current events – i.e., not the result of an imminent physical threat.
The body has the same reaction to a psychological threat as a physical threat.
Yet, the body has the same reaction to a psychological threat as a physical threat.
Adrenaline and cortisol are released into your system to increase muscle tension, heart rate, blood pressure, and brain waves so that you can make decisions quickly (do I go right or left) and move with speed, agility, and strength.
The brain understands when a physical threat has passed. The tiger is slain, or you survived the near-miss car accident. When you're safe, the body automatically releases the cortisol and adrenaline, restoring it to a normal state.
However, psychological threats have no such release. Even when your conscious mind thinks it's over, the subconscious mind continues to stress over the threat.
This elevated cortisol level doesn't diminish, reducing deep sleep, resulting in a lighter, more easily disrupted night.
The only way to reduce the elevated cortisol is to address the stressors that are still floating around in your subconscious that you may not even be aware of.
The problem with psychological stress is that your conscious brain has become adept at believing the issue is resolved, yet these are the things that tend to run over and over in your brain when you can't sleep at night.
Give Yourself an Hour Break
Taking a break from your devices, specifically, the things that keep you connected and can increase anxiety and stress is a good first step to a good night's sleep.
Meditation, journaling, yoga, breathwork, self-hypnosis, or tapping are great ways to deal with these stressors and can help to release the cortisol from your system to improve the quality of your sleep.
Looking for more healthy things to do before bed? Get my free PDF, 15 Healthy Things to Do Before Bed.