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Can’t stop scrolling on your phone before bed? Here’s why hitting ‘Do Not Disturb’ will help you unlock a better night’s sleep.
Ever stayed up late on your phone, scrolling through bad news story after bad news story, feeling increasingly wound up when it’s time to wind down? It’s called ‘doom scrolling’ – and though you may not have heard of it before, you’ve most likely done it.
Or maybe you find yourself checking social media, replying to messages, or squeezing in one last episode of that TV show you’ve been binging all week. Whatever’s got you hooked to your phone, tablet or laptop after lights out, chances are, it’s impacting your sleep in a big way.
Everyone knows that once you start scrolling, it’s hard to stop. Websites and social media platforms often have complex algorithms that learn from your online behaviours and push related content to the top of your feed. So if you’re reading a certain kind of news story, or pausing longer on certain videos, you’ll probably keep getting fed similar content. These algorithms are designed to capture your attention and keep you online longer – which can drastically delay lights out.
Even after you manage to tear yourself away, electronic devices can continue to hinder your sleep. Why? Because the activities we use them for – playing games, watching videos, scrolling through social media – tend to be stimulating. One study found that using technology before bed may even trigger the release of hormones such as cortisol, leaving us feeling ‘wired’.
That horrifying documentary on food poisoning? Consider your stress response triggered. A problem flagged in a work email? That’s like a cold cup of coffee to your adrenal system. And let’s not get started on what happens when you disagree with a total stranger in the comments section of Facebook.
According to the Australian Sleep Health Foundation, electronic devices can also mess with our circadian rhythm – the internal clock that tells us when it’s time to sleep and wake up. During the day, sunlight suppresses the body’s production of melatonin, the ‘sleep’ hormone, keeping us awake and alert. When we’re exposed to bright, artificial blue light from our electronic devices at night-time, this can trick our body into thinking we’re meant to be awake and delay the onset of sleep.
When we do eventually drift off, having electronic devices nearby can still be a problem. Let’s face it: reaching for our phones when they buzz is practically a knee-jerk reaction. And if they’re interrupting our natural sleep cycles throughout the night, this may leave us feeling tired and worn-out the next day.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to stop your electronic devices from affecting the quality and quantity of your sleep. The first step is to get on top of your digital wellness: find a balance between the amount of time you spend online, and when you do it.
The Australian Sleep Health Foundation recommends switching all electronic devices off 1-2 hours before bed. You can also adjust the filters on most smartphones to a night-time or yellow-light setting (which will reduce the influence of blue light on your circadian rhythm), manually set your phone to Do Not Disturb mode, and/or turn off the vibrate function to ensure your shut-eye goes uninterrupted.
If you’re in the habit of picking up your phone as soon as you get into bed, it’s a good idea to keep it out of sight. Try placing it in another room or storing it somewhere you can’t easily reach. Forty Winks has a range of bedside tables and engineered bedheads available with ample storage space – enough to keep your devices hidden and books handy. The Forty Winks Newport Bed Frame, for example, includes a hidden storage compartment in the headboard, as well as a shelf with built-in LED lighting for reading.
Adjustable bed bases and mattresses can be a great way to promote better sleep habits, too. Lying in a more upright position might encourage you to read a book before bed and help you resist the urge to roll over and grab your phone. The Forty Winks Tempur Ergo Smart Adjustable Base also comes with a pre-programmed relaxation ritual to prepare you for a restful night’s sleep, while the Forty Winks Tempur Ergo Pro Smart Bed base uses sensors and AI to track your sleep cycles. It even has an alarm setting to wake you during the lightest part of your sleep cycle, leaving you feeling more rested the next day.
However you choose to unplug each night, your future self will thank you for it!