12 Benefits of Banning Electronics from the Bedroom


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Smartphones and other electronics such as tablets and laptops are destroying our sleep. For one thing, the blue light emitted by these devices tricks our brain into thinking we should remain awake. It blocks melatonin production, a hormone essential to sleep.

"Even if you're someone who can fall asleep easily after staring at your phone, experts suggest that the light can make it more difficult for you to reach the deeper stages of the sleep cycle," says Chris Brantner, a certified sleep science coach for SleepZoo.com.

About 81 percent of people use their phones within an hour of bedtime, and 66 percent use them within 30 minutes. Additionally, the average person is getting only a little more than six hours of sleep, when for the sake of long-term health, many people could probably use more. Bottom line: Banish the electronics from the bedroom. You'll be pleasantly surprised by the rewards.

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First, the obvious: Sleep experts will tell you that a bedroom free of electronics results in you getting more sleep and higher quality sleep. Your sleep will no longer be interrupted by the buzzing, beeping, and other noises associated with your email, Twitter, and all the other random notifications that come courtesy of a smartphones, says Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert for New Jersey-based Maple Holistics. And as a result, you will actually wake up feeling refreshed.
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Sitting down and reading an actual book, the old fashioned kind, made from paper, is a dying (or dead) habit for many. It's so easy to simply read everything online via a phone, tablet, or e-reader. It's also easy to spend the time you might read a book instead mindlessly scanning Instagram, Facebook, and your Twitter feed. Backe says he always has a book on his bedside table now that he has banned electronics. "Sitting in bed with a book. It is so natural, yet I hadn't done it in probably years," said Backe. "It's learning-oriented, enriching, mind-expanding, rather than purely entertaining."
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When we remove electronics from our bedrooms, we're not just removing the physical objects themselves, we're also removing our link to the outside world, points out Jordan Harling, digital strategist for furnishings company Roman Blinds Direct. As part of ongoing sleep research conducted by the company, Harling recently banned electronics from his bedroom. "We're all used to being bombarded with emails, Snapchat messages ... We're always primed for that next interaction. Having an electronics-free area provides you with an oasis of calm in a hectic world."
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For those of us who use smartphones as alarm clocks -- and who doesn't these days? -- Harling says putting them outside the bedroom assists with dragging yourself out of bed each morning. Why? Because you'll have to walk out of your bedroom to silence the phone's alarm when it goes off in the morning. That is, assuming you put the phone somewhere you can still hear the alarm. And there's no point in hitting the snooze button when you're already out of bed, right?
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Banning electronics is a big part of sleep hygiene, says Dave Conley, a San Francisco-based health and wellness coach who works with people that need to lose between one-third and half of the body weight. "I like to say that the bedroom is only for TWO things, and your phone (or computer), and TV aren't either of them," says Conley. Without good sleep, you can't lose weight and keep it off, adds Conley, who requires all of his clients to go through a process of cleaning up their sleep practices as a foundation for self-care and weight loss.
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After banishing electronics from her bedroom, Jen Greyson, CEO of tech startup Neureal Network, found that she sleeps deeper and requires fewer hours of sleep, ultimately waking naturally. "I wake when my body is rested, which some mornings is 3 a.m. and 8 a.m. on others," said Greyson. "I've learned to trust my internal clock and rise when I wake." And on those mornings when her body wakes extra early, she uses the time for self-care or work, depending on the day's tasks.
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When not mindlessly watching television or scrolling through social media, you can do many other things, says Greyson. She uses the time for yoga, meditation, and writing the old fashioned way: with a pen and paper. "Now, instead of keeping my phone on my bedside table, I have a notebook and pen. Writing ideas down by hand has been great for my creativity," she said.
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Smartphones and all of their notifications change the way we think, says entrepreneur Jeff Butler, who gave a TED talk on the topic. Text messages, email, and apps all provide loads of notifications. "You adapt to the rapid stimulus of notifications from your phone, making every day tasks such as reading, writing, or simply talking to a friend difficult." In addition to banning electronics from your bedroom and during family time, try reducing the number of notifications you receive.
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When we bring our electronics into the bedroom, we're tempted to respond to work emails and notifications at all hours of the night, slowly but increasingly eroding personal time. "You make yourself just that much more available here. That much more available there. And this perpetuates ... to a point to you're literally on your phone 24-7 because you're trying to keep up with external obligations," said Butler. "Managers literally have their employees on a leash because of the convenience factor of technology." Leave the technology outside the bedroom and leave the work behind, too.
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All of this boils down to the fact that we've largely become a technology-addicted society. And for good reason. Technology has countless benefits. Having a personal computer at our fingertips in the form of a smartphone is handy and entertaining. But for the sake of your health, your ability to sleep and to think more clearly, it's best to clarify who is in control. The answer is: you, not the smartphone. Practice distancing yourself from the technology, letting go and giving yourself and your mind a break from all of the distractions.
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While early reports tying smartphones to brain tumors proved unfounded, there is some agreement among scientists regarding the fact that these devices emit micro levels of radiation. Once again, why not give your body a break for seven or eight hours a day from the radiation, however small the levels may be?
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When you begin to integrate all of the benefits that come with banning electronics from the bedroom -- more reading, better sleep, quality time with your partner, fewer distractions from the outside world, and more -- suddenly, the bedroom transforms into a place you actually look forward to visiting.

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