Let’s be frank : I have done it, you have done it, and most likely, a lot of people that you know still do it. Sleeping with our electronic devices is perhaps one of the most underrated health risks in modern times.
In 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that electromagnetic fields produced by mobile phones are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as possibly carcinogenic to humans. Children are the most vulnerable given that their scalps and skulls are thinner than adults’, and are therefore more vulnerable to radiation. When I shared these findings with my teenage son, he was shocked and immediately embraced the recommendations you will find at the end of this post.
Just the potential health risks should be enough of a deterrent to keep our devices out of our bedroom, but there are other compelling reasons why we should be motivated to keep our bedroom electronics-free.
The temptation to play games, scan our inbox, chat with friends and read the news are just a few of the many activities that we can engage in if we invite our electronics to our bedroom in the evening. More often that not, giving in to these temptations will delay our bedtime which will surely shorten the duration of our sleep, leading us to suffer the characteristic symptoms of sleep deprivation: erratic decision making, low energy levels, mercurial emotional state, memory lapses, generalised feeling of stress, etc.
If you are in a relationship, spending time with your electronics in the bedroom will compromise the mindful and nurturing time you could devote to your partner. The quality of our close relationships plays a big part in our emotional, mental and physical state, so neglecting our personal interactions with loved ones for the sake of screen time will undoubtedly have an unwanted effected. Any relationship expert will tell you the poor communication and lack of intimacy are key contributors to the downfall of most relationships.
Well, enough with the somber news. Let’s move on to the simple tips that will improve your relationships, keep you healthy and set you up for a great day at work.
Don’t use your mobile device as an alarm clock. If you really need an alarm clock to wake up, get a dedicated alarm clock that uses a warm & gentle light and natural sound effects to get you up in the morning. Please, stay away from those incessant beeping devices that wake you up in a state of alarm and stress.
Impose a devices curfew and stick to it. First and foremost, have an open conversation with members of your household about the physical, mental and emotional perils of using electronic devices in the bedroom and then agree on a time when curfew will be observed. The imposing comes after the consensual agreement. As you know, dictatorships in civilised societies are short-lived.
Find a place outside your bedroom to put away your electronic devices. Select an official designated area in your home where all members of the household will place their devices in sleep mode or simply turned off. A designated charging station could do the trick. The adults in the house should be setting an example by always following this rule – no double standards please!
Keep a book by your bedside. Since the moment I started using this strategy, it had an immediate effect. After I put my kids to bed, most of the time I’m looking forward to reading the next section of the book currently on my nightstand. Unless of course my wife has other ideas – literature can always wait!
So please, choose wisely who you sleep with…