We are the distracted generation. There are more things competing for our attention now than any other time. We are more wired and more tired. How well we perform is governed by how much time we take to switch off.
Technology has a big impact on our quality of the sleep so we set our pal, Immy May, a challenge - to go 3 days tech free and see how it affected her sleep. How did she get on? Keep reading to find out!
Immy is a 20 summin’ Londoner, yoga goer, cake baker and photo taker. When she’s not in downward dog or gobbling some form of sponge, she runs her own lifestyle blog, Immy May. She loves Instagram, Netflix ‘n’ chill and ridiculous videos on YouTube, but also loves a good night’s kip… Who doesn’t?
I’m just going to go ahead and say it: I am addicted to social media.
It felt good to get that off my chest.
The scrolling never ends. I will lay wide awake, my mind racing from the glossy snippets of other people’s life on Instagram. I switch off my lamp at night, only to replace it with the glaring blue light of my phone. My brain absorbs everything, leaving me either full of ideas or overwhelmed with self-comparison and doubt.
88% of people's sleep problems are caused by stress and anxiety increased by technology. Try and make sure all gadgets are switched off 2 hours before bedtime - pick up a book or do some yoga!
Back in the day I would head to bed early, read a few chapters of Harry Potter, set my radio alarm and fall into a deep, happy slumber. A screen would never be the last thing I held at night and the first thing I would reach for in the morning.
I was interested to see how much time I actually spend on my phone. The app ‘Quality Time’ (‘Moment’ on iPhone) measures how much you actually spend looking at the screen. Last week it was 24 hours. That’s an entire day staring at my phone. If that isn’t a wakeup call then I don’t know what is!
Rather conveniently I headed home to the Isle of Wight at the weekend. What better time to banish my phone for a few days, ey?
Saturday morning we headed to Waterloo for our train. I brought along a book, notepad and boyfriend to keep me company. As I was actively trying not to reach for my phone, I started to realise how often I check it. It was like clockwork, every 30 minutes or so, I would have a compulsion to scroll and check for anything new.
80% of us check our phones as soon as we wake up. Think bad email, think bad mood. Why not switch it up and make breakfast before looking at your phone, you'll be surpised at the difference it makes!
We hopped on the boat and said sayonara to the mainland. First stop, lunch with friends. No snapping pictures of the food, just catching up and enjoying each other’s company without needing to document every moment.
My phone stayed tucked away in my bag for almost the entire day and I went to bed without checking my phone once. I wouldn’t lie - it was difficult but so worth it. No alarms set, no blue light illuminating the room, just pure, undisturbed slumber.
We both woke up naturally to the sunlight gently creeping through the curtains. We felt calm, refreshed and positive for the day ahead. I reached for my phone but it wasn’t there (I purposefully left it on the other side of the room!) Instead, we got up, got dressed and set off for a run down to the beach.
The half hour we spent running to the shore, I would normally have been in bed scrolling through my phone… Weird thought, isn’t it?
We spent the rest of the day with family, sat beside the sea, drinking tea and reading the papers. Conversation flowed much easier as my phone wasn’t constantly buzzing by my side. I felt much more present and involved, realising how distant I can be.
Once we arrived back in London, after a lovely weekend packed full of family and friends, we fell straight to sleep as soon as our tired heads hit the pillow! I wasn’t even tempted to check my phone, sleep was far more appealing.
For some bizarre reason, I woke up naturally without an alarm (VERY rare for a Monday morning!) I showered, made a cup of tea and peanut butter on toast all before I would usually hit snooze on my phone alarm. I felt completely energised and ready for the day ahead.
Insomnia is the most cited health complaint in the world and affects 15% of the population. It can be caused by our body keeping us awake because it feels under threat. Are any life events keeping you awake? Seek professional help if needed!
An average day at work is the ultimate tech-free test. I am usually glued to my phone throughout my commute, during lunch and on my way home. I picked out a book to get stuck into and spent 45 minutes relaxing, rather than wishing I was in all the idyllic looking places on my Instagram feed!
At lunch I decided to take a stroll and grab coffee from the cute Parisian café across the road, I spent the hour working on my bullet journal which was so therapeutic, especially whilst snacking on macarons, naturally! As my job is based on a computer, staying away from screens throughout lunch made a huge difference to my productivity. Rather than falling asleep at my desk in the afternoon, I felt alert and motivated. Bossin’ Monday more than ever before!
When I arrived home, I grabbed my running gear and set out for the park. I did a mixture of running and yoga, listening to the world around me and mulling over my day. Again, I was ready for bed feeling like I really needed it. I felt sleepy in the best way, I had dedicated time to myself, to my body and wellbeing – and it was absolutely paying off!
Our screens emit a specific type of blue light that keeps us awake by suppressing our sleep hormone, melatonin. Try keeping your phone in another room whilst you sleep, use your 'night shift' mode or keep it face down so the light doesn't wake you up!
The way I feel in myself is amazing and can't believe how quickly I've been falling asleep. I feel like every ounce of anxiety has melted away, my usual feelings of self-comparison have diminished and I am focusing on myself and the people around me much more.
Unexpectedly I was much more active than I thought. I made myself tired as I was interacting with people, or distracting myself with exercise rather than giving in to my phone / Netflix and losing hours without even realising.
I found out that it is not only the moments before you sleep/wake up that makes a difference to the quality of your sleep. It is the watching videos rather than engaging in conversation, uploading to Instagram halfway through a run, scrolling through Twitter whilst eating dinner. It all manifests and gradually affects your minds ability to totally switch off.