Like many people I have used my iPhone as a alarm for years. I take it up to bed with me, plug it in and leave it to wake me up in the morning, or that’s what I thought.
I’ve read may article on the problems of having your phone in your bedroom but my biases convinced me that I was immune to the problems highlighted.
For those of you who don’t know that a smartphone in your bedroom is a bad idea there are a number of reasons but they primarily come down to the impact that using these devices has on our brains. The smartphone is, for most of us, the portal into the highly addictive world of social media. Social media is constructed to grab and retain our attention, which it does by feeding the brain with exciting things – bright colours, moving objects, attention, etc. Our brain doesn’t just switch off from these stimuli and go into a deep sleep, our brain needs time to wind down from the effects of the high calorie inducement.
There’s also a physiological reason, the smartphone screens give off light that impacts upon our levels of melatonin, a sleep inducing hormone. There are ways of reducing this impact, for some phones that requires an app, on the iPhone it comes with Night Shift mode that reduces the problematic blue light frequencies.
My biases convinced me that as long as I enabled Night Shift mode I was pretty immune to the impact of social media – I was wrong.
Something broke through my biases and I decided to invest in a traditional alarm clock; evicting the iPhone and leaving it downstairs to charge. Sounds simple enough?
Making the change was much harder that I was expecting, It’s been over two weeks and still, every evening I will at some point reach for my iPhone. I’m not sure what prompts it, but the urge is there. The action was so habitual that I didn’t even know I was grabbing for a social media fix. I’m sure that this automatic response will pass, but it hasn’t yet.
Also, I’m not sure I can claim any great impact on my sleep yet. I wasn’t expecting to be able to get to sleep quicker, because that’s never been a problem. What I was hoping for was better and longer sleep as part of a general improvement in sleep hygiene, but that hasn’t yet materialised. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to switch back to having the iPhone in the bedroom, but it does mean that I need to keep working on it.
We live in a sleep deprived world and I think we need to do more to help people understand its importance. This isn’t just about a feeling of well-being, our poor sleep may by killing us.