We all use our smartphones to check emails, track packages and deliveries, order tickets and book flight reservations, and more, but few of us consider how smartphones can help us rest better at night. A key component to being a productive citizen at work is getting recharged every night, so in the morning you can actually multitask away as you use your phone to respond to emails, schedule appointments, and other tasks. Not only will you be more productive, but a good night’s rest can help reduce stress, lower your risk factor to type 2 diabetes and heart disease, improve creativity, but most of all help you live longer in a healthier way.
So how to eliminate the bad stuff and reap the rewards of a better night’s sleep with your smartphone? Here are three basic tips to get you going:
1. Turn Off, Tune Out, Sleep Well.
The 1960s moto of “turn on, tune in, and drop out” doesn’t rely apply when you’re trying to calm your mind before bed at night. Researchers say that mobile users really need to “turn off” their gadgets at night before bed in order to sleep well.
The National Sleep Foundation reported that over 90 percent of Americans use some sort of electronic device with a glowing display within an hour before bed at night, which is bad no matter if it’s a phone, tablet, or laptop. The artificial light generated from these screens actually make you more alert by lowering your melatonin production, disrupting your circadian rhythm.
For something a bit more advanced, to help you sleep you can even buy lighting that will enhance sleep and will wake you up in the morning, like the Philips Hue where you can control the color of the light from a smartphone app. A dim red light at night before bed to mimic the sunset and some a light that glows gradually brighter to wake you up each morning like the sunrise.
Tip: If you must use your device bed, dim your screen. Else, try to not check your email or catch up on the news with a tablet or phone in bed. For heavy readers, try an e-ink display like Barnes & Noble’s Nook reader or Amazon’s Kindle rather than an LCD tablet.
2. If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them
If you absolutely can’t shut off your phone or tablet before bed at night to increase your melatonin production to sleep better each night, use your device(s) and manage them to help you rest better. Turn off ringers and notifications so chimes and alarms won’t disturb your sleep in the middle of the night.
Apple’s latest iOS software comes with a Do Not Disturb mode while Samsung’s Galaxy S4 comes with a Blocking Mode to silence away the world of emails and text messages. Using these apps, you can white list contacts so your parents or children can always call you in case of an emergency. Hopefully, your white list won’t the type of contact who will pocket dial you at 2 AM each morning.
Other devices, like Motorola’s Android family, comes with a profile manager that you can set to activate select features or functions based on time, location, or other conditions. Using the Smart Actions mode on a Droid RAZR, you can tell your device to silence notifications between a set time based on time settings, location, or if your device is plugged in at the nightstand for charging each night. There are also some third-party apps, like Tasker, on Android that can do similar things.
So now we’ve eliminated the interruptions, but what about falling asleep?
You can try downloading a white noise app or some sleep sounds to play in the background. This could include the sound of crickets chirping or the rhythmic crashing of ocean waves. A good tip here is to buy or download an app with a timer that will turn off once you’ve fallen asleep. Your phone can be an effective replacement to a sleep sound machine from Sharper Image circa late 1990s.
Tip: Turn off the interruptions with a profiles manager or set your phone to do not disturb. Fall asleep to a sleep sound app.
3. Monitor Your Sleep
Sometimes, a major event in your day or life could disrupt your day, whether that’s stress, a change in your life, or depression. To help you sleep better at night, you can log your sleep and your day’s event. Perhaps a restful night of sleep was achieved because you had a tiring day jogging on the beach. Maybe you were restless one night because you ingested too much coffee in the afternoon. These are important things to recognize so you can change your behavior to allow for better sleep.
One way to do this is to purchase a sleep journal app on your phone and record your activity and level of restfulness each night. Again, with bright screens interfering with melatonin production, you should journal in your app when you wake up in the morning rather than at night before bed. You can even buy a cheap paper notebook and do this as well.
Another way is to automate this. You can buy a number of accessories that will track your sleep based on how much you move around at night. The new Lark Life band will not only track your fitness, but your sleep, as will a Jawbone Up fitness band or clip from Fitbit.
Tip: Record your sleep so you know what the problem is so you can fix whatever is causing your sleepless nights.
Do What Works for You
These three tips should help you get a good start to a better night’s sleep, but keep in mind you should do what works for you. Do you have any personal tips to share with us on achieving better sleep? Leave us a comment.