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Brandon Peters, M.D.

30 Days to Better Sleep: Remove the Electronics from the Bedroom

By January 2, 2013

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On the path to better sleep, today's task requires a little manual labor: remove the electronics from the bedroom.

Ideally, your sleep environment should be a space that is maximally conducive to sleep. For most people, this involves having a devoted room in the home with a bed. It should be cool, dark, and quiet. It should be a space reserved for sleep and sex. It should be preserved as an area devoted to sleep. In order to accomplish this, you must remove the electronics.

Start by unplugging the television. Many people enjoy falling asleep to TV, but this can be a very disruptive part of the sleep environment. It can delay your bedtime and reduce your total sleep time. As you finally doze off, the noise may cause you to awaken. If it remains on, this can occur throughout the night. Along with the television, clear out your gaming systems, VCR, DVD player, Blu-ray player, and any other entertainment devices.

Next, turn your attention to your computers. Power off the desktop, pack away the laptop, and remove your tablet computers. It may even be advisable to clear out your electronic readers such as your Kindle or Nook. These devices are small, quickly slip into bed, and can easily be a source of distraction and sleep disruption. If you wake in the night and begin using your computer to pass the time, you lose the association between your bedroom and sleep. Instead, it becomes the place where you can lie awake at night and surf the Internet. Moreover, the exposure to low levels of light may disrupt your circadian rhythm and your ability to fall asleep, resulting in insomnia.

Additionally, leave your cell or mobile phone in the other room when you go to bed. These phones are increasingly recognized as a source of sleep disturbance in children and adolescents, with many "sleep texting" inadvertently. If your phone sounds with an alert for a text message or if a call rings through, this will disrupt your sleep. Don't let this disruption intrude into your sleep environment. If possible, you should not have any phones in your bedroom space.

Before reveling in the success of accomplishing today's task, do one final sweep of your bedroom. Is there any other technology that might be a source of distraction or disruption? Are there devices that will prevent you from having a quiet, soothing sleep space? You may clear out radios, alarm clocks, portable music players, and anything else that has a power cord and an on/off switch. Preserve your bedroom as an electronics-free zone.

Your bedroom is for sleeping, and by removing these electronics you will begin to re-establish the healthy relationship between this space and the expected associated behavior. You will reduce your exposure to disruptive low levels of light and intrusive noises at night. Moreover, with this simple task you will begin to initiate changes that are integral to sleeping better.

Check out the entire series, "How to Sleep Better in 30 Days."

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May 17, 2013 at 8:41 am
(1) Emily says:

I loved this!!
My friend watches tv at night, and things, and then she’s awake till 3 in the morning. I don’t do anything strenuous in the few hours leading up to bedtime. I have to stay to a strict sleep schedule because I have a circadian rhythm disorder, and it takes me forever to fall asleep if I don’t get within my body’s allotted window. Staying out late poses challenges because I get sleepy as early as 6:00 in the evening. I’ve banned electric devices from my room, and I think that is wonderful for sleep.

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