What’s More Important – Your Phone or Your Sleep?

At first glance, the headline above seems silly.  Of course sleep is more important.  Sleep deprivation can bring on a host of physical and emotional problems.  However, if it’s truly that obvious, why are many of us letting our phone get in the way of sleeping properly?

With an increase in the use of phones that can retrieve information like email or Facebook at any time, it’s becoming nearly impossible to get away from work or even our friends.  A recent National Sleep Foundation poll found that 95% of its respondents regularly use some sort of electronic device in the hours before bedtime.  When compounded by an earlier study that said 48% of us admit to checking or updating Facebook or Twitter during the night or as soon as we’re awake, and you’ve got a problem.

Many use smartphones as a bedside clock and alarm to wake up in the morning.  For the individual who feels he or she needs to be connected at all times, this presents a temptation that’s hard to resist.  Not only can you lose sleep due to actually waking up to check email, Facebook, or Twitter, but even the act of rolling over to look at an electronic screen to check the time can reduce your sleep effectiveness.  Exposing your eyes to bright light at such a close distance can actually stimulate the brain enough that it can throw off your body clock.

So, what’s the answer?  The simple solution is to keep your phone in another room while you’re sleeping.  However, if that’s not an option because you need to be available for emergency calls or you simply don’t have another alarm clock, try putting your phone across the room — close enough so you can see the time, but out of arm’s reach.  Set boundaries that bedtime is for sleep — not for email or social networking.  Give yourself permission to sleep without interruption.  You may find that detaching yourself from your electronics gives you a sense of freedom.