Advice & Resources, Autism Insights, My Journey

Sleep, Technology Hangover and Functioning

Reflections on a Better Sleep for a Better Me!

Do you ever find yourself staying up way later than you should staring at your phone, mindlessly scrolling through it or watching something on it when you should be unwinding and getting to bed? And then only the next day to find the choice you made from the night before (to stare at the screen mindlessly) easily catch-up to you and cause you to not feel well-rested or refreshed the next morning. Well, this is me sometimes… most times. I’ll be feeling myself get tired and weary after a long day of work or study only to curl up between the sheets with my hand automatically on reaching towards my phone instead of the lovely pile of books I have placed purposely on my nightstand for reading, all the while knowing that I am really better off the next day when I do read instead of look at a screen. It’s a real issue for me, and doesn’t just end with phones but screen time in general can have adverse affects on my well-being the next day and is a big struggle before bed, but it is something I am working to curve. Not just because- well one shouldn’t spend that time on the phone, but because I have consciously felt the difference it makes on my own mental states between a night of well-rested sleep and one of unrested sleep due to screen time.

The Comparison: Good Sleep vs. Not So Good.

For one, it’s often felt physically, as my whole body starting with my brain seems to move slower, more sluggish than normal as I peel myself out of bed. In this sense, it often doesn’t feel like I am rested at all and to further this terrible cause wake up often feeling groggy, headachy and resentful that I allowed myself to have affected my sleep in such a way, swearing that I’d never let it happen again (which rarely works). Mentally, that time staring at my screen affects things like my focus, which sometimes just doesn’t seem to be there, nor do I feel physically present. My mood certainly seems connected to the sleep I was able to get and over-all ability to function through the day in that I am often more irritable, cranky and easily flustered by the slightest adjustment. In a sense I am coming to understand this experience and name it “technology hangover”  since it certainly feels like what I would picture a hangover feeling like to me. Where as the night’s where I’ve chosen reading over screen time, it’s night and day (or more like night and better night’s sleep). I can function better with my brain having proper rest, I am not groggy from that night’s sleep, feel more rested and less sluggish, and as it turns out I wake up in a better mood. All of which equates to being better able to focus and take on whatever the day may bring without feeling like I am dragging myself through it.

Actionable Steps… Towards Better Sleep!

So, what’s the hold-up? You may ask. If I know all of this and still persist to reach for my phone.  Well, to me it’s seems that technology and especially the technology of my phone seem quite addicting. In like I said, if it’s by my bedside I can’t help but reach for it, and if not I still find myself wanting to pick it up, as even the possibility of just briefly looking at it seems all too tempting, and more so once I put it in my hand. However, knowing all that I am gradually figuring out solutions to change my screen time habits before bed, like finding a wake up light to be my alarm instead of my phone, I have time limits set on certain apps that interupt viewing and am relocating where I charge my phone so that it’s away from my bed. All of which are just simple steps to help me get better rest and re-evaluate the relationship I have with my phone before bed. Feel free to share some of your better sleep solutions below, or experiences with turning technology off before bed!  Kylie