To Sleep, Perchance…

On of the most important ways to keep your mind, body, and spirit working smoothly is to get a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, quality sleep seems harder and harder to come by these days. And while we can’t dream Ebola, over-active volcanoes, school shootings, or any of the other recent mayhem out of the world, there is one simple thing we can do to improve both the duration and the depth of our sleep: turn off the computer.

There are a variety of ways that computer usage, especially late at night, can compromise our dreamtime.

  • Bright, flickering, blue monitor screens can reduce melatonin levels
  • Low grade radiation from cell phones can delay crucial deep sleep, and/or shorten its duration
  • Processing ever increasing loads of information can keep our minds spinning even after we’re asleep–decreasing the restorative benefit of slumber, and can result in generalized stress or anxiety
  • Screen addiction not  only overloads us with information, it also robs our minds and bodies of the hundreds of tiny mini-breaks we used to get throughout the day–standing in line at the post office, sitting in the car waiting for the kids to get out of school–forcing our systems to put even greater pressure on the rest we get at night
  • And then there’s the regular old adrenaline- pumping stress of getting one of “those” emails that spins you sideways right before you’re supposed to head to bed

So what can we do about it, short of taking vows of technological poverty?

  1. Turn off your screens at least an hour before bed, giving your body and mind the time it needs to wind down toward sleep
  2. Steer clear of Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and other quick flipping, info-dense sites after dinner–not only can the sheer volume of data keep your brain clicking even hours after you unplug, the “just one more message” mentality that seems to go hand-in-hand with these kinds of sites can make it nearly impossible to find an easy shut off point
  3. Practice not picking up your smartphone or tablet every time you have to wait–instead, try noticing your surroundings, talking with someone, or just tune in to the state of your body and if you’re tense, take the moment to breathe through it
  4. Consider a digital sabbath where you avoid all electronics for 24 hours–not only will it give your mind a rest, it can help save on your electricity bills, too