My Self Imposed Curfew for High Quality Sleep
My self imposed curfew for high quality sleep
A short time ago I noticed that I was lacking my normal ‘pep in my step’ each morning. It had been a gradual occurrence, but after some time became impossible to ignore. In an ongoing quest to feel my very best each day I proceeded with some self analysis to uncover the behaviors that could be causing my morning lethargy. Come to find out, our nightly habits can greatly affect not just the quantity but also the quality of our sleep each night.
Recently a great deal of research has been published on the adverse effects of electronic devices on our brains and bodies. The short-wavelength ‘blue’ light that’s emitted from our computers, TV’s, tablets and phones suppresses melatonin, disrupts sleep duration, quality, and hormone production leaving us feeling tired and under recovered throughout the day.
Along with the effects of the light, the overstimulation we get from our electronics causes us mental unease. Constantly jumping from one web page to the next, one headline to another, this video to that, limits our ability to concentrate on a single task for an effective period of time. It is actually rewiring our brain so that we have less ability to focus, leaving us in a perpetual state of what the buddhists call ‘monkey mind’.
I could feel these negative effects of using my laptop late into the evening. It became difficult to concentrate deeply. I began to feel anxious and even a bit short of breath. The overstimulation caused me to stay up much later than I should have. When I did try to sleep, I would lay in bed trying in vain to calm down my brain and drift off to dreamland.
With this research in mind I put a curfew in place. 45-60 minutes before bed each night, I go dark, turning off all electronics. All screens, buzzes, beeps and alerts are shut down. In other words, my house resembles a 1920’s home (with more comfortable furniture of course).
The first time I tried this I had the ‘well what the heck do I do now?’ feeling. Without TV, computers or my cell phone, there was nothing obvious around to keep me passive entertained. Glancing beside my bed, I noticed a stack of books that were just begging to be read! I peered over to my desk and oh, hello, there’s the abandoned journal left 90% blank just begging to be cracked open!
With this electronic curfew in place, the hour before bed is dedicated to reading, writing and meditation time. By the end of the hour, according to plan, I’m pleasantly sleepy and ready to catch some proverbial z’s.
For your own practice, you could include any number of things in your last hour. A board game, time to talk with your spouse, yodeling practice, you name it, as long as anything that needs a battery or an outlet is off, you’ll be on your way to a more restful night’s sleep and a more energized and productive tomorrow.
Note: I actually had to stop editing this post one night to stick to my curfew!