Additional thoughts on screen-free hours in bed (I bent the rules)

Yesterday, I wrote about two simple metrics I like to track to make sure I’m doing everything in my power to feel my best.

One of these was screen-free hours in bed (for adequate sleep).

Today, I want to expand on this with more specifics, since I tried it last night.

What is screen-free time in bed?

It should be exactly what it sounds like: laying in bed with no screens (TV, laptop, phone), but I bent the rules a little and I found it still worked well.

Last night, I went to bed around 8:20pm with my phone in hand. I did the social media thing, watched a couple of short YouTube videos, and then decided my screen-free time was going to begin at 8:35pm.

At 8:35pm, I moved my phone off the night stand closest to my side of the bed and onto my dresser, which is nearby, but out of reach. This prevented me from being able to hold my phone while I was laying in bed, but it was still close enough to be able to hear my alarm go off in the morning.

So, I started my screen-free time in bed at 8:35pm, but I did look at another type of screen while I was laying in bed about to fall asleep: my Amazon Kindle on the dimmest light setting.

Since the Kindle has a black and white screen and its dimmest light setting is VERY dim, I don’t feel like it had a negative impact on my sleep.

I’m not a light scientist or anything, so I may be wrong, but from everything I’ve read about screens at night, the brighter, blue light is the most harmful.

I’ve activated the night shift setting on my iPhone, so it automatically disables blue light from sunset to sunrise, but even staring at my iPhone on night shift mode in bed felt disruptive.

My Kindle doesn’t feel that way at all. In fact, it feels very similar to reading a paperback book with dim lighting, which I have heard many sleep experts recommend.

So, yes, I bent the rules a little, but for practicality sake (since I find it very difficult to just lay in bed and try to go to sleep without reading something), I did it. And I’m okay with it because I consider keeping my iPhone out of reach for over 9 hours at night a BIG win.

Why screen-free hours?

Now that that confession is out of the way, let me remind you WHY I’ve decided to start tracking screen-free hours.

The reason is it’s something I can control.

I may not be able to control how many hours of sleep I actually get.

Sometimes, I can’t get to sleep or I wake up in the middle of the night and my brain starts racing for 2 hours.

But I CAN control how many screen-free hours I spend in bed each night. And I’m willing to bet there is a correlation between more screen-free time in bed and more sleep.

The results?

So, I tried this last night and the results compared with my previous night of sleep were like night and day (pun intended).

As I mentioned, I began my screen-free time in bed at 8:35pm. While reading my Kindle on minimum brightness, I fell asleep in less than 5 minutes.

Last night’s sleep.

I got 8 hours and 6 minutes of sleep (with over an hour of deep sleep) in my nearly 9 and a half hours of screen-free time in bed according to my Fitbit.

Previous night’s sleep.

This was a massive improvement on the 5 hours and 23 minutes of sleep I got the night before. Note: part of the reason I slept much better was that I slept poorly the night before, so these results may not be typical.

However, if the 9 hours of screen-free time in bed helps me get at least 7.5 hours of quality sleep per night, I’ll be pretty happy with that.

What gets measured gets managed. If you want to improve something, define a metric, set a goal, and track it.

My weekly screen-free time in bed goal is 63 hours. What’s yours?


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