Let’s be honest here: We’re not breaking up with our phones anytime soon. As much as we all have a love-hate relationship with those little devices, cutting the cord (so to speak) would mean giving up a lot of perks and connections.
So, instead of constantly looking for ways to use our phones less, what if we shifted the narrative to talk about using them to our advantage instead? For anyone who’s balancing work and parenting, you know what a lifeline your phone is. It tracks your schedule, the kids’ schedules, your partner’s… It keeps you connected to friends when you’re way too busy to see them in person – and it provides much-needed comic relief in the form of endless streams of funny dog videos.
For those of us without a real-life personal assistant, we have Siri and all the other apps that help keep our life in some semblance of order during the day. But, while our phones often take the blame for keeping us up at night, they can actually help us develop better bedtime routines – and even help us fall asleep.
Here are seven of the things your phone can do to help you wind down and get a better night’s sleep. (Sorry, but scrolling Instagram until you pass out is not on the list! We’ve all been there, right?)
1. Set an alarm – but make sure it’s for the right time.
The Wake-Up Alarm feature on your phone saves you from doing late-night math. If you need to wake up at 6:30, it’ll prompt you to also decide when you need to get to bed to clock enough good, quality sleep.
As a reminder, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults get seven hours or more a night. (Yes, even you, even if you think you can get away less than that.) This function also lets you set a sleep schedule for each day of the week. But here’s another reminder: It’s better to stay consistent and aim for the same bedtime routine on weekdays and weekends.
If you have to get up at 6:30 but try telling your phone you want to go to bed at midnight, you’ll get an honest answer that “this schedule does not meet your sleep goal.” While your phone will honor your wishes, it’ll also plant the seed that you need more rest!
2. Set a bedtime reminder – or put your sleep hours in your calendar.
Once you have your wake-up schedule in place, your phone will remind you when it’s time to start getting ready for bed. If you find it easy to ignore notifications, double up. Manually add an alarm for one hour before you want to be in bed, with your Hello Dreams™ sleep strip melting as you drift off to sleep.
Another helpful option? If you use an online calendar, put your sleep hours in it. That way, every time you schedule a meeting or look at your to-do list, you’ll see that big block of time set aside for rest.
A better tomorrow starts the night before, so prioritizing sleep should be step one of any plan you have to crush your goals, follow your dreams and take over the world.
3. Download meditation apps or listen to meditative music.
If you struggle to wind down and let go of the day, consider making a nighttime meditation part of your bedtime routine. Meditation can actually change the gray matter of your brain and fight off brain atrophy, so it’s a win-win.
Apps like Calm or MyLife have free meditations and the option to buy additional recordings. You can also find meditations on YouTube in various lengths. If you like to fall asleep watching TV, try swapping in a sleep meditation for a week to see if it changes your sleep habits.
For music lovers, check out meditative playlists on Spotify or search for nature sounds or other soporific tunes.
4. Listen to sleep stories.
Listening to audiobooks in bed sounds like a great idea – until you realize that you’re way too engrossed in the plotline to turn it off and catch some Zs. That’s where sleep stories come in. You can buy audiobooks filled with them, ask Alexa to turn one on for you, or find them on the Calm and Headspace apps, or on YouTube and other sites.
These stories are the exact opposite of page-turners. Instead, they are designed to be dull and lull you to sleep with their endless mundane details and calm narration. Nothing really happens, and that’s the point. There’s an art to writing them, but listening to sleep stories requires very little brain power. Turn on one of these tales when your mind won’t stop racing and you need something to focus on instead of the hamster wheel of worry keeping you awake.
We, of course, suggest pairing a sleep story with a refreshingly minty and herbal Hello Dreams™ sleep strip with Melatonin & Calm Down™ herbal blend to help you sleep deep and awake restored.*
5. Set Do Not Disturb hours
Texting is one of the easiest ways to reach out to a loved one and connect when you’re busy. But text threads can sometimes cut into bedtime if we don’t set some boundaries. The same goes for emails – we can’t control when the boss messages us, but we can control when we see it and respond.
Do not disturb hours help you maintain healthy work-life and wake-rest boundaries. For one week, see what happens when you stop getting notifications from an hour or two before bed until at least an hour after you wake up. Does not seeing unanswered work emails help you rest better? And does not seeing them in the morning help you ease into your day? Give it try!
You get bonus points for turning on the option that dims your lock screen, too. If you’re concerned about missing emergency calls, we hear you – but you can let go of that worry. It’ll allow repeated calls to come through as well as calls from your favorites list in your contacts.
6. Change the display and brightness settings.
Blue lights from screens like your phone and the TV can impact your natural sleep cycle – and slightly interfere with the body’s natural melatonin and cortisol production schedule. Blue light will significantly impact your ability to get sleepy!
If putting down your phone can’t happen before bed, at least change the display. Let the screen naturally dim later in the day to mimic the end of daylight. You can also download blue light filters for laptop screens, if you work or study after dark.
7. Take notes before bed.
While Hello Dreams™ sleep strips are expertly formulated with melatonin and our six Calm Down™ herbs to help quiet the mind, drift into deep slumber, and awake restored, sometimes your mind needs a moment to unload before bed.*
When a stubborn thought or worry sticks around at bedtime, write it down as a way to let it go without forgetting it. Instead of turning on the light and fumbling around for a pen and your journal, grab your phone. Use the notes app (and talk-to-text if you’ve already taken out your contacts) to unload anything that’s on your mind. Tap out a quick note (with that blue light filter on) or dictate your thoughts to Siri. This way, they’ll be there when you wake up — and you get to have sweet dreams for an energized tomorrow!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.