Sleep Hygiene Tip of the Week: ‘But I use my cellphone as my alarm!’

“Man, asleep with cellphone,” by tracy r, 2008 (CC BY 2.0, image has been enhanced)

The cellphone as alarm… 

This is the most common excuse people have for keeping their cellphone close to bedside every night when they go to sleep.

For some, it’s only an excuse. They tend to keep checking their email, responding to texts, or scrolling social networks well after lights are out (like this guy, above).

It’s a behavior akin to an addiction, and while people intellectually know it’s not healthy to practice it, they still do, using this particular reason as an excuse.

But then there are those among us (including yours truly, the curator) who actually do use the cellphone as their morning alarm (when necessary).

However, this does not mean the phone needs to be kept at bedside.

A nearby closet or hallway with a plug in, or a bathroom, makes the perfect place to charge and stash your phone at night.

There are distinctly good reasons for charging your cellphone in a separate room adjacent to your bedroom:

  • If you need it as an alarm, then you cannot hit snooze (which is poor sleep hygiene). You have to get out of bed to turn off the alarm. Problem solved! Most people are not going to get back into bed after that.
  • Even if you turn the sound off, a cellphone can light up periodically depending upon how you set your notifications. By placing it in a separate room, face down, this problem is corrected.
  • You can’t participate in another bad sleep hygiene habit―checking the clock all night―if it’s charging in a different room. (Or, I guess, you could, but then how will you get your sleep?) Clock watching is a significant problem for insomniacs. Removing all digital and analog time pieces from the bedroom is first on the to-do list for addressing the problem of nighttime “vigilance.”

A final tip: There are ways to silence your smartphone during your sleeping hours so that you can predetermine what calls or texts can come through. (This does not mean you have the green light to keep it at bedside… but it can certainly give you some peace of mind knowing that only the important calls or texts can get through―the ones you don’t want to miss at night.)

Be judicious about choosing who you will accept calls or texts from. Parents of teenagers, people with elderly parents, or people with loved ones who are seriously ill may wish to adjust notifications to only allow calls or texts from these people in the event of emergencies. Also, people who are on call 24-7 can silence their phone except for those contacts who might need to reach them in the middle of the night. These are reasonable exceptions, and if your phone goes off at night with these settings in place, you will know right away that it’s an important message.

If you have certain friends, coworkers, or other associates who tend to text or call at inappropriate hours, and these are not urgent messages (meaning, they can wait until morning), you can use your smartphone settings to silence them until you wake up in the morning. You don’t have to tell these people you are doing this: if they complain, you can just say, “Sorry, I was asleep and didn’t get your message.” Repeating this enough times might drive home the message that calling or texting during one’s sleeping hours is not acceptable.

Not sure how to set your settings on your smartphone to achieve this? Read our post on the subject.

About Tamara Kaye Sellman (621 Articles)

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