Goodnight Darling “Phone”

The real consequences of prioritizing devices at bedtime

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In the early years of the iPhone, which feels a lifetime ago (despite its 10 year anniversary), My husband and I both started and finished the day with a quick update with phone in hand while still in bed. A light sleeper, I eventually insisted on moving them out of the bedroom. Too many nights of interrupted sleep by calls from clients in other time zones. Over the years I have come to appreciate the discipline to dock devices in the kitchen before going to bed. The reasons extended to my health, sanity and intimacy. Traveling for business I try to get as close as I can to this practice by charging devices across the room and turning them on silent mode face down.

What are the consequences when the last thing you see before shutting your eyes at night is your phone. When it comes to breaking bad habits with technology, this one happens to be a big trigger for many of my clients. We like to point fingers at kids and teens that are trying to maintain their snapchat streak, participate in group texts, watching the latest episode of The Bachelorette. As adults, we are just as guilty, perhaps for different reasons. Whatever the rationale, the consequences are rarely considered in their entirety.

Consider some of the physiological effects. The blue glow from the screen inhibits melatonin production which controls your ability to both fall asleep and stay asleep. The general rule of no blue screens at least 30 minutes prior to sleep time can give you a good guideline to work with. The dopamine rush from tracking social media for followers and likes can also affect melatonin production. On the other hand sleep deprivation can inhibit the vital dopamine production we need to thrive.

To phub, ignore one’s companion in order to pay attention to one’s device, is not only rude, but also destructive to relationships. The emotional consequences of disconnect impacts all social interactions. Physiologically, the reduced occurrence of intimacy (from snuggling to sex) with one’s partner decreases the production of oxytocin. Oxytocin is important for bonding and for releasing the happy hormone serotonin.

Moral of the story, it is not just distracting to have your phone in the bedroom, but bad for your health and wellbeing. Good news is, this is easy to fix. Keep your phone out of your bedroom! Get an alarm clock (AppleWatch is ok, as when docked it acts as clock only). Read a book (kindle ok, with no blue screen). Snuggle with your partner and your kids more. Get a good night sleep!

Originally published at

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