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Tech, and in particular, smart devices and their apps have become an extension of ourselves in recent years, and there’s no sign of this slowing down any time soon. Smartphones are capable of doing so much these days that they’re like a modern-day Swiss Army Knife!
We’re just so used to being consumed by all things digital that we can’t possibly bear the thought of being detached from our devices, from smartphones to tablets, laptops, and more.
There’s every chance you struggle with allowing yourself downtime. Your emails are at arm’s length away, so if work-related mail comes through, you can’t just switch off and ignore it. And then there’s the constant drowning in social media; aimlessly scrolling through photos, videos and status updates!
What we’re saying here is that it can all get a bit much so being able to unplug and unwind is essential. Everyone needs a digital detox of some description, and the benefits to peeling away from being connected are useful too, according to John Swartzberg, M.D.
Research has indicated that there are health benefits that come with taking a break from tech, including improved mental alertness and a reduction in disturbed sleep:
Tips for Unwinding and Unplugging
Use these pointers to enjoy the benefits of turning off and getting away from the ever-present technological world so that you can relax and enjoy a higher quality of sleep, which is so important to your health and well-being.
1. Log Off and Shut Down Before Bed
To give yourself the best chance of winding down and enjoying some much-needed restorative sleep, you need to be putting all of your smart devices and tech on silent/standby for the night.
This includes TVs too because screens emit a blue light that prevents the brain from releasing melatonin that helps you shift into the body’s own ‘night-mode’ and inhibits our circadian rhythm from functioning correctly. What’s more, when you’re scrolling and replying to emails, watching TV in bed, etc., your brain is being stimulated, which also inhibits sleep.
2. Include Some Exercise
We’re not looking at a hard HIIT session here, but more along the lines of a stroll without your phone that will allow you to bring the pace down; mentally and physically.
Moderate exercise helps to increase your body temperature, so when you’re done exercising, the drop off in temperature can promote a faster transition to sleep. Exercise also has the potential to ward off feelings of anxiety as well as symptoms related to depression.
3. Create A Sleep Haven
If you struggle to relax before bed, then you might be missing some essentials in the bedroom. Your bedroom space should support the activity that your room is there for; in this case, sleep.
Ideally, you want it to be as dark and quiet as possible as this signals to the brain that it’s time for sleep. Blackout blinds/curtains help with this, while earplugs or even a white noise app played through some headphones can help to block out residual noise that might be stopping you from relaxing.
Once you realize how good sleep is in a sleep environment like this where no tech is involved, you won’t turn back!
4. Don’t Go It Alone
Try and share the experience of getting into non-tech good habits with people around and feed off of each other. A good method for getting people involved is to implement a no-gadget policy when you sit down for a meal. Put all the phones in another room and have a chat. You will be amazed at how conversing can help your mind lighten the load in terms of what you’ve been storing up or passively-aggressively sharing on social media.
5. Don’t Set Unrealistic Targets
If you want to succeed in obtaining a higher quality of rest in the long-term, baby steps are essential. Take the time to wean yourself off checking your emails 10-20 times an evening and try 5-10, for example.
The upshot here is that if you go completely cold turkey, you’ll most likely end up hitting the old routines even harder. Just don’t be too hard on yourself and allow some time to yourself a set amount of time to check work-related things and social media for some personal time each day, then work on decreasing that amount as the days, weeks and months go by.