Sleep with your phone in a different room (and buy an alarm clock).

Insomnia is a frequent ‘chief complaint’ that gets folks to see me. Insomnia is roughly defined as ‘ not getting the sleep you want at the time you want it.’* It’s my task to find the reason(s) that relate to the insomnia. Insomnia is often a symptom of something like pain, depression, or anxiety; treat these conditions and sleep improves. Regardless of a medical matter most folks with insomnia do things that mar a good night’s sleep. Get these addressed and they will sleep better.

The number one culprit contributing to poor sleep is ‘techie toys in the bedroom’. People in bed stare wide-eyed at bright screens which mar the melatonin cycle and stimulate their brains just when they ought not to be doing so. At the other end folks wake in the morning and immediately grab the phone. This mars sleep in the anticipation of waking up to see what you missed.

Thus, the number one recommendation to improve sleep is to remove the cellphone from the bedroom.

You would think I was asking folks to chop of their arms.

A frequent recommendation to folks complaining they can’t get up and out of bed in the morning is to have them set a loud alarm clock in the kitchen so they are obliged to get their butts out of bed to go turn off the ruckus. Once out of bed they may keep going rather than returning back to bed.

I don’t lead by example; I sleep with my phone. My phone serves as my pager. If summoned at 3AM I need to hear the phone ring. If I didn’t have this I would make it a point to turn off my phone every 10PM and not turn it on until after doing my morning ablutions. I send and receive good morning texts. All too often I wake eager to get to them. I also look to see if my latest entry posted properly and are there any comments – not good for sleeping well.

The desire to enough sleep seldom surpasses the willingness to put the phone away. Rather, patients want sleeping pills to knock them out like a club to the head in a Warner Brothers cartoon. These sort of drugs seldom work well or for long and they don’t address the contributory factors of insomnia. Our brains are not computers that turn on and off with a switch. They are more like jumbo jets that need time to descend to the ground. Getting into bed should be the last step in an hour-long routine of turning down the lights and life in general – including ‘no cell phone use’ after 9PM.

Just try getting people to do this.

Tip #38 has a lot of data to support its worth. It could improve sleep – and life – dramatically if only people would do it.

Do you sleep with your cellphone?

*Sometimes people convey they are getting enough sleep, but it’s done at hours they don’t want. In the old days we used to fix this but nowadays the approach is better to adjust life to the hours you are awake and sleeping.