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Digital Detox Challenge: A New Year's Resolution for Improved Sleep

by BetterSleep
Jan 31 2024 • 6 min read
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You might have heard the catchphrase: less is more, and when it comes to our consumption of screen time and blue light, it rings truer than ever. 

Curious? We recommend you try the ** ** Digital Detox Challenge, a powerful resolution you can make to reduce your reliance on your digital devices, especially as you’re winding down to sleep. 

The Connection Between Digital Devices and Sleep

Excessive and regular use of screen time has been linked to sleep disturbances that can affect the duration and quality of rest. 

We’re on our phones 24/7: as soon as we wake up, waiting for our train, in line to get a coffee, and even as we’re preparing to go to sleep. The screens of our digital devices emit a significant amount of blue light, suppressing melatonin production. By reducing screen time, especially before bedtime, you allow melatonin to help you doze off to sleep. This natural hormone helps signal your body that it’s time to wind down, promoting a quicker transition into restful sleep.

Engaging in stimulating content in an endless stream of information can activate the brain while you’re trying to doze off slowly. 

The Benefits of a Digital Detox for Sleep

By giving yourself a break from screens, you can unlock several ways for sleep improvement:

Improved Mental Well-Being

When you’re constantly exposed to negative online content on social media, also known as doom-scrolling, you can feel more stress, anxiety, and depression, even when you can’t identify the source of it. 

A digital detox can allow you to stay away from over-stimulating controversial content, helping you have a more positive outlook on life and fewer worries fogging your mind as you go to sleep.

Improved Sleep Quality

Improving sleep quality is a common and valuable goal, and a digital detox can play a significant role in achieving this. Excessive screen time, especially late at night, can lead to delayed bedtimes and shortened sleep duration.  

A digital detox encourages you to stick to a consistent sleep pattern by prioritizing your sleep over scrolling through your phone, which can lead to deeper and more peaceful sleep. 

The Digital Detox Challenge: Getting Started

Starting on a digital detox can seem daunting at first, given how addicted many of us are to our phones and how prevalent the use of screens is in our everyday lives. However, taking the first step towards reducing screen time is one that will help you unlock better sleep and overall well-being. 

Assess the Hours of Screen Time You Get Everyday

Do a mental calculation of your current digital habits. Assess the time you spend on different devices, which apps or activities consume most of your screen time, and which time of the day you spend on screens the most. Understanding your starting point can help you plan out your next steps. 

Create Tech-Free Hours of The Day

To start your detox the right way, you can first decide on specific times during the day when you will be completely screen-free. A good example could be one hour before you sleep and one hour after you wake up, which could be your screen time-free hours. 

This can help you acclimate to natural light patterns and help regulate your circadian rhythms. 

Establish Tech-Free Zones

Identify areas in your home where screens are commonly used, such as the bedroom or dining table, and decide that they should become tech-free zones, meaning nobody can use their digital devices in these rooms.

Creating these tech-free zones can help you and your family avoid idling on a screen for no reason.

Find Alternative Activities

One way to conquer the Digital Detox Challenge is to find methods to distract yourself from your devices. We often use our phones or watch a movie because we’re bored. Consider activities such as curling up with a good book, practicing mindfulness or meditation, engaging in a hobby, or spending quality time with loved ones. This can help you reconnect with other parts of yourself and not yearn to scroll through your phone. 

Utilize Screen Time Tracking Apps

A screen time tracking app can be a lifesaver on your digital detox journey. These apps can help you monitor your usage frequency and patterns, so you can see where you can cut back. Set daily or weekly limits on your screen time and use these apps as tools for self-accountability.

Strategies for a Successful Digital Detox

Here are some easy-to-do digital detox strategies that can help you reduce screen time and unplug. 

Establish Clear Boundaries

Clearly define the boundaries of your digital detox. Whether it’s specific hours of the day, designated tech-free zones, or certain days of the week, establishing clear boundaries helps you develop a system to detox successfully. 

Encourage Face-to-Face Interactions

During your digital detox, prioritize face-to-face interactions over digital communication. Spend quality time with friends and family, engage in meaningful conversations, and enjoy a life without screens. 

Don’t Quit Cold Turkey

Set achievable and realistic goals for your digital detox. If going completely screen-free seems challenging, start with small, attainable steps, and gradually move on to unplugging more often. 

Practice Mindfulness and Meditate

Practicing mindfulness in your life can help you ease into the changes. Engaging in meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga can help alleviate stress and promote a sense of calm, contributing to better sleep.

Measuring the Impact on Sleep

Keep A Sleep Journal

Start by maintaining a sleep journal before, during, and after the digital detox—record details such as bedtime, wake-up time, and sleep quality. Note changes in sleep duration and overall sleep satisfaction.

Use A Sleep Tracking Device 

Using a sleep-tracking app such as BetterSleep can help you monitor your sleep cycles in a better way. These apps monitor sleep cycles, track sleep duration, and often provide insights into sleep quality. You can review this data and see the changes over time.

Assess General Well-Being and Quality of Sleep 

The duration of your sleep can be calculated, but the quality of sleep is something you need to feel. Pay attention to how you feel when you wake up. Do you find any improvement in how well-rested and awake you feel?

Doing this can help you quickly do a sleep quality assessment and analyze if you feel any improvements. 

The Role of Sleep Apps and Technology

Sleep apps and technological support can help with the digital detox process by providing essential tools for people who want to have a more balanced relationship with screens.  Sleep tracking apps provide insights into sleep patterns, helping users monitor their progress and adjust their habits accordingly. 

Sleep apps such as BetterSleep provide data on a more informed and thoughtful approach to sleep, helping you support your digital detox process. 

Personal Stories: Digital Detox Success

“I was a digital marketer at an ad agency that never let me off my phone. I got frustrated and joined the Digital Detox Challenge*. Now, I have screen-free, peaceful dinners, and enjoy quality time and more meaningful connections with my family*.”

-Emma, Digital Marketer, Nice Ad Agency

“I struggled with insomnia that made me scroll through hours of mindless reels that gave me throbbing headaches in the morning. I’d had enough! So, I started a digital detox and tech-free time zones to always doze off on time and wake up feeling refreshed!“

Tom, Professional Graphic Designer, Jerry Industries

Conclusion: Embracing a Screen-Free Lifestyle

As we kick off the new year, why not try something different, like the Digital Detox Challenge? By reducing your screen time, you can shift your focus onto the more important things in life and make way for an improved way of living. 

You can also use apps like BetterSleep to help you track your progress. This digital detox journey is like an invitation to a more relaxed and balanced lifestyle. Remember, the power to make a positive change is in your hands—literally!

So, here’s to less screen time, better sleep, and a happier you in 2024!     

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