It’s not exactly news that modern technology impacts our sleep. We’ve all heard about the studies proving that bright screens mess with our “sleep switch”, and that a constant bombardment of emails, newsflashes and cat gifs keeps our mind ticking long after our phones are prised from our palms.
The result of these studies is that tech-worshippers fall into two camps; the enlightened few that somehow manage to steer clear of screens at least two hours before bedtime, slumbering in a device-free zone, and the rest of us mere mortals that lie awake at 2am browsing pictures of pugs, delusional that we can conceivably reach the end of our feeds before dawn.
If you identify with that second description, it’s okay. Not everyone has the steely discipline to leave their connection to the world more than an arm’s length away. It’s clear that instead of weakly trying to kick your addiction, you should be embracing the tech specifically designed to help you sleep. Read on for some tips about how to unplug, without literally having to unplug anything.
1. Dust off that Fitbit
Studies have shown that just one session of moderate exercise a day can improve your quality of sleep. This is thought to be partly due to its effect on your circadian rhythms, and also because a post-exercise cooldown mimics the natural temperature drop that occurs when you fall asleep.
2. Set your screens to “warm and fuzzy”
Devices use blue tones in their backlights to replicate daylight, which is great at lunchtime, but a bit intense in the evening. Reduce the strain on your eyes by installing f.lux on your phone and computer, which mimics natural light quality throughout the day, subtly transitioning your monitor as the sun sets.
3. Eliminate midweek binging sessions
No, we’re not talking about your diet. Plug your modem in via a timer, and set it to switch off your internet connection an hour before you should go to bed. It’ll stop you watching “just one more” episode on Netflix, or completing “just one more” mission on your game, and leave you with nothing to do but read or sleep.
4. Upgrade your environment
While not be strictly “tech” related, replacing your bedding is absolutely fundamental to getting a proper kip. Not convinced? The average human loses about 285ml of sweat each night and about 450g of dead skin a year. This gradually makes our mattress and pillows a haven for dust mites, and a rather unpleasant slumber-spot for humans. If you’re sleeping restlessly, it’s time for a fresh start. Visit a specialist-bedding showroom, like Snug Interiors, where you can actually test out mattresses, pillows and duvets until you find a perfect match.
5. Silence isn’t golden…
But white noise is. You already know that next door’s dog keeps you awake, but a silent room can also cause restlessness by letting even the slightest sound interrupt the restorative stages of deep sleep. Find a happy medium with a “white noise” app, which drowns out background noise with a low-key buzz that your body can adjust to. Our favourite is Noisli, which lets you combine multiple sounds to create your perfect soundscape.
6. Embrace the dark side
Once the sun starts setting you should be reducing the brightness of your room lights. If, like us, you’re too lazy to install a dimmer switch, invest in app-controlled smart bulbs. The Philips Hue system is regarded as the best in terms of functionality, but cheaper models can be found elsewhere. While on the subject of lights, go old-school on chargers and standby LEDs, covering any bulbs with masking tape to absorb the glare.
7. Wake up and literally smell the coffee
The Barisieur is an alarm clock that gently coaxes you from slumber with a cup of freshly brewed coffee, every morning. It’s still in prototype stages, but donating to the Kickstarter campaign can ensure you get your hands on one as soon as physically possible (in the meantime, you’ll just have to sweet talk your other half). Need something stronger than caffeine to get you moving? Luckily there is a whole host of brutal alarm clocks that force you to submerge them in water, chase them through the house or bribe them with money before they’ll be quiet.
Maybe one day you’ll be able to muster the discipline to stop using your phone (or tablet, or laptop or TV) just before bed, but let’s face it – by the time that happens machines will be running the world anyway, so why fight it?