Do you struggle with nighttime tech use? Do you find it hard to wake up in the morning, because you stayed on your smartphone or tablet into the wee hours of the night?
What may seem like harmless scrolling is actually robbing many people of precious hours of sleep, leading to irritability, trouble with concentration, a weakened immune system, and health risks, like high blood pressure, weight gain, and an increased risk of diabetes.
Not to mention being chronically late to work or school!
No one means to be at the mercy of their devices. We convince ourselves that we can stop anytime we want. We tell ourselves, “I’ll just check Instagram once more real quick,” and an hour later, we’re still scrolling. Then, suddenly, it’s 1 AM, and we’ll be lucky if we can get five and a half hours of sleep before the alarm goes off.
If you are someone who struggles to maintain healthy boundaries when it comes to tech use at night, here are some things I have found helpful in placing boundaries around nighttime tech use and putting technology in its proper place.
- Get an alarm clock. You remember those, right? All they do is tell time, or perhaps they have a radio as well. If you don’t still have one, get one and put it beside your bed. This way you do not need to rely on your device to wake you up in the morning. You also don’t need to pick up your phone to check the time in the middle of the night.
- Create a charging station at least fifteen feet away from your bed. It could be in the hallway, a closet, or even a drawer on the other side of the room. It just has to be far enough away that you have to physically get up from your bed to access your device.
- Create friction around accessing your apps after your pre-determined end time. First, decide on a time you will be done with your device for the night. Set an alarm for fifteen minutes before that time, and when the timer goes off, put your device on the charging station you’ve established. (If this is the only phone you have, and you’re concerned people won’t be able to reach you on the off chance you get a call, put the ringer at full volume. If someone needs to reach you in the middle of the night, you’ll hear it.) Next, create additional friction by turning on Downtime, App Limits, and/or Focus. These are great tools on Apple devices (I’m sure non-Apple devices have their own versions) that allow you to set an intention around tech and place boundaries of access and time around your app use.
- Identify what’s behind your nighttime tech use. Are you bored? Keep a book or some magazines beside your bed to look at as your brain begins to shut down for the night. Lonely? Keep some pens and notecards beside your bed and write a letter to someone you care about before turning off the light. Mind racing and struggling to “turn off your brain at night?” Keep a yoga mat beside your bed and do a short series of breathing exercises and stretches before climbing into bed.
- Involve another person. Tell someone you trust about your struggle with tech use at night. Many of our struggles lose power when we bring them into the light by acknowledging them aloud. If loneliness is behind your tech use at night, perhaps you could even end your day with a short phone call with a friend.
Technology is a great thing. I’m grateful for how many aspects of my life are more convenient and streamlined because of the apps I use on a day-to-day basis. But technology can have a way of taking over. These steps can help put technology in its place—and give you a good night’s rest.
Christy Tennant Krispin is a Whole Life Coach helping clients live more intentionally in alignment with their goals and values across all spheres of life. Schedule a free consultation with Christy here.
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