Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How to stop sleeping with your phone

How to stop sleeping with your phone

It's an unhealthy habit that many people (myself included) do. Here's how to get your phone away from your nightstand for a more restful night's sleep.

16 December 2014 5:12 pm GMT
James Martin/CNET

If you're spending each night sleeping with your phone, you should stop.
Why? Well for starters, the blue light your phone's screen gives off can keep your brain awake and affect the quality of your sleep. Tablets and computers give off that light too, but you're more likely to take your small phone to bed nightly than those gadgets.

Next, there's the concern of cell phone radiation. There is no definitive, conclusive answer of whether or not the radiation all cell phones and smartphones emit can or will give you cancer or any other ailment. However, some research suggests that cell phone radiation can interfere with your sleep, which makes the argument for keeping your phone farther away from you while you sleep more compelling.

Likely, most of us don't need to keep our phones on our nightstands or under our pillows at night. However, if you're already blurting out the reason you must have your phone within arm's reach at all times, even during slumber, I'm here to help you break that habit. Below, I tackle the most common reasons you'd want to keep your phone close and help you find better solutions for each.

Reason one: You use your phone as an alarm

Like many people, I haven't used an alarm clock on my bedside table for years, ever since I got a cell phone. If you also use your phone's alarm to wake up in the morning, there's a better way.

The simplest solution is to move your phone away from your bed to a dresser or other surface. The distance makes it less likely that you'll use your phone right before going to sleep and helps cut down on exposure to radiation. As an added bonus, you're also forced to get out of bed to shut off your alarm, ensuring you won't just keep tapping snooze and sleep longer than you intended.

Reason two: You want to be able to hear important calls and text messages

This is the top reason I've kept my phone on my nightstand for so many years; I don't want to be out of reach in case of a late-night emergency. However, you can keep your phone at a healthy distance and still get important alerts.

Here, Do Not Disturb mode is the perfect solution. Available on iOS, most Androids, and Windows Phones running version 8.1, this feature turns off all notifications and alerts from emails, texts and incoming calls, except from a few important contacts that you program. It's also easy to set up.

On iOS devices, go to Settings > Do Not Disturb and either turn it on manually, or set it turn on and off on a schedule every day. You can allow calls from everyone, select contacts, or no one at all.

For most Android devices, go to settings and look for Blocking Mode or Do Not Disturb. Most phones will let you control what kinds of notifications you get and from who. For devices running Android 5.0, you can simply press the volume rocker and turn on Priority mode or turn off all notifications.

Lastly, Windows Phones have a Quiet Hours mode that you turn on with Cortana. Just open Cortana, tap the menu button and select Quiet Hours. You can also enable it in system settings.
Make sure to turn up your ringer on your phone so that the calls and messages that do get through Do Not Disturb mode are loud enough to wake you up if necessary.

Reason three: You listen to music as you go to bed

Whether you're listening to an audiobook, music or ambient noise when you nod off, the easiest option is to plug in your headphones and rest your phone close by. However, with the help of some Bluetooth headphones, you can move your phone farther away or even to an adjacent room and still get your tunes. Most phones and accessories that use Bluetooth have a range of 10 meters (33 feet), so keep that distance in mind when finding a spot for your phone.

There are many Bluetooth headphones to choose from, and even ones that are designed for sleep, such as the soft SleepPhones. Of course, it's much cheaper to just use a pair of low-cost wired headphones to listen to music. However, if you're concerned about radiation or the effects of your phone's screen on your sleep quality, it's worth picking up a wireless option.

Reason four: You're checking email or Facebook or playing games before bed and fall asleep with your phone unintentionally

The simplest solution to stop going to sleep with your phone is to set boundaries. Staying up late to play games, hang around Facebook or answer emails from your boss isn't good for your sleep health or stress levels.

Start by picking a designated spot for your cell phone away from your bed, either in your bedroom or someplace else in your home. Put your charger there and any other accessories, like a stand, that you want.

Next, set up a daily routine for your phone. You can either opt to plug it in as soon as you get home or set a phone bedtime, where you plug in your phone at certain time each night and don't touch it again until morning. The more you do this, the more natural it will feel to not have your phone close to you at all times, demanding your attention. And maybe instead of staying up playing Candy Crush, you'll pick up a book or go to sleep without any distractions instead.

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