Smart Tip: Use Your Phone to Get More Rest
Our stretched-thin society is suffering from a sleep crisis. According to the National Sleep Foundation, about one in three of us are stricken with some level of insomnia. And unfortunately, our digital screens often contribute to this issue.
However, these devices can also be used to help us sleep a bit better and longer. Here are a few tips to help you establish some good habits and maintain a positive sleep schedule.
Eliminate blue light
One of the big issues with our high-tech toys is that most of them emit blue light from their screens. Recent studies have shown that light, especially blue light, can prevent secretion of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.
While that side effect is fine during the day, streaming videos on your tablet or tinkering with your smartphone in bed can keep your mind alert for longer and disturbs your natural circadian rhythm.
So, what’s the solution? Apps like Twilight (download from Google Play store) and the ELECOM browser (download on iTunes) work to actually change the colour of light emitted from your device’s screen. They allow your screen backlight to adjust itself based on the time of day — meaning your screen will take on a red hue as night falls. The lack of blue light is intended to help your mind wind down in spite of the presence of screens.
ELECOM is particularly handy because it allows a wide degree of customization for how much blue light you’d like to eliminate (i.e. reducing by 75 per cent). And Twilight’s slick dashboard is quite user friendly, with options allowing you to adjust the screen’s colour temperature, dimness, intensity and set filter timing (always on versus being on at night). These are viable options for those who are bothered by their screen’s brightness and/or simply can’t live without their smart device in the bedroom.
Lull yourself to sleep
One way to gently lull yourself into a deep slumber is to drown out the noise of the bustling world around you.
With a few finger taps, you can install an app like Sleep Pillow Sounds (iOS or Google Play) to transform your smartphone into a white noise machine. A variety of pre-set ambient mixes help the listener hunker down, unwind and fall seamlessly into a REM cycle.
This option is ideal for those who like to relax to the soft rhythm of rain, crickets or a variety of natural sounds to help you achieve deeper sleep faster.
Track your shut eye to wake up gently
Most of us are used to waking up to jarring ringtones or jolting alarm clocks. But research shows that waking up gradually is better for the heart and the key to feeling refreshed.
Luckily, it’s easy to upgrade your smartphone’s harsh built-in alarm ringtones. Slowly awaken with an app like Gentle Alarm (download for iOS or Google Play), which times your sleep cycle in order to awaken you at the lightest time in your REM cycle. And this particularly feature-rich app also offers a variety of customization options for the length, type and modulation of your alarms. Users can also create personalized profiles so it’s simple to switch between alarms for power naps versus your nightly sleep.
Keeping tabs on your slumber can also reveal some eye-opening stats. You may not be getting as much sleep as you think. But Gentle Alarm uses your phone’s sensitive accelerometer to track your shut eye so you can get a better understanding of how well you are (or aren’t) snoozing.
The bottom line
Smartphones can serve a number of functions, including a white noise machine and apps that gently lull you into a deep slumber. And although screens are often blamed for preventing us from catching quality Zs, downloading the right apps can turn them into a helpful tool in the quest to get a good night’s rest.
What other ways do you use your smartphone to help you sleep? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
By Lindsey Peacock