Welcome to the sixth habit in the #GiveMe30HabitProject!!
See this post for all the details and backstory!
This month’s habit is an electronic curfew! 😱
I know what you may be thinking. There’s just no way. But this is not just about using tech less. It’s about improving the quality of your sleep. What if I told you that getting better quality sleep could impact everything from your weight management, to your mood, to your relationships, to your productivity, to your mindset, to your health conditions—and more?!
Sleep affects so much of our quality of lives and the things that we value. Most of us are in such a constant state of sleep deprivation that we have come to accept it as normal. We don’t know how bad we feel until we know how good we can feel. We have come to believe that caffeine and other means of keeping ourselves energized are necessary. I’m not knocking caffeine! I love a good cup of hot green tea or coffee, but the problem comes in when were using them as a Band-Aid to cover a problem, rather than as an enjoyable addition to our life.
Think about how you feel when you are truly well rested. It makes all the difference. What if your exposure to electronic devices in the evening was actually inhibiting how effective your sleep could be to an extent which you don’t even recognize?
In general, the closer the device is to us, the greater the negative impact (i.e., a cell phone by your face has greater effects than TV across the room). The blue light from screens and devices interferes with our bodies ability to regulate sleep. Many of us sit in front of a computer screen for hours a day for activities related to our job, then watch a few hours of TV, and scroll our phones to top it off. While those hours have an impact too, it’s especially harmful to use electronics in the evening hours during the timeframe when your body typically produces hormones like melatonin to help you sleep and to regulate your circadian rhythm. What that means is that it doesn’t just affect your sleep for one night, but it affects your hormone production and regulation throughout the following days. Even artificial indoor lighting can do this depending on the type, but it is much less realistic to expect us to turn out lights after the sun goes down. Instead, I want you to give yourself an electronic curfew. If you typically use devices like computer, cell phone, or TV, start with just 30 minutes earlier of shutting them down. The evidence shows that 60 minutes is more ideal, but, baby steps hurt less! Start with 30 and increase if you can over time, even if it is 1 minute a night. You could even implement a previous habit topic of reading during this time to substitute your typical habit! 😉
The Lost Appreciation Of Sleep
Many of us wear our habit of too little sleep like a badge of honor. The hard truth is that it is not healthy, nor does it serve us well. When you’re not well rested, you don’t think as clearly and you’re not able to perform at your best at work or in service to your family and others.
God thought that rest was so important that He dedicated an entire day to it, but He also designed our bodies to function to need rest for specific processes during the night.
Why is sleep so important? Several reasons:
1. Adequate sleep affects your ability to function at your highest. It is been shown that just one night of poor sleep quality or reduced sleep duration impacts your ability to function at normal capacity. Sleep deprivation can put you in a worse functional state than you may realize—even on par with alcohol intoxication! We shouldn’t drive or work in that state.
According to a AAA study, drivers functioning on 4-5 hours of sleep in a 24 hour time period have crash risks similar to those of an intoxicated driver with a blood alcohol level above legal limits. Source
The same AAA study found drivers who miss two to three hours of sleep a day more than quadruple their risk of getting in a crash, compared to drivers who sleep for seven hours. Source
Sleep deprivation slows things which are critical to job performance like reaction time, accuracy, and attention.
“…there is broad consensus that insufficient sleep leads to a general slowing of response speed and increased variability in performance, particularly for simple measures of alertness, attention and vigilance…” Source
2. Sleep is the time where our body clears away toxins from our brain—including those associated with Alzheimer’s Disease! (Source) Sounds weird I know, but the brain has it’s own lymph system called the glymphatic system. This process only happens while we are asleep and in certain stages of sleep.
“The lymphatic system of the brain opens up at night, and removes toxins while we’re asleep.” Source
3. God tells us in scripture to rest! The Lord sets an example of how to work and rest in Genesis, then commands His people to follow that example in Exodus. He also makes it clear that physical rest is vital to staying prepared to serve and should not be neglected.
Jesus and his followers were in a very busy place. There were so many people that he and his followers did not even have time to eat. He said to them, “Come with me. We will go to a quiet place to be alone. There we will get some rest.” Mark 6:31
He also states that not following through on a call to rest in order to accomplish more work is a waste of time. He even says He will provide for us while we are sleeping!!
It is a waste of time to get up early and stay up late, trying to make a living. The Lord provides for those He loves, even while they are sleeping. Psalm 127:2
4. It can cause problems with your hormones and your ability to maintain a healthy weight. Part of our hormonal regulation is controlled by something called HPA axis and circadian rhythm. I won’t bore you with the details, but essentially, when your sleep is out of whack, the system gets thrown off, causing major problems with your hormone production and regulation. A good explanation of this dysregulation and the impact on androgens, thyroid hormone, cortisol, insulin, growth hormones can be found here. Everything from blood sugar control, to thyroid function, to fertility can be affected depending on how long you live in a state of sleep deprivation.
“If you have been practicing poor sleeping choices, fat loss will be much more difficult. This is because sleep has the ability to “reset” metabolism impacting hunger hormones, stress hormones, and muscle building/fat burning hormones. Sleep is a prime determinant of whether you can maintain sustained fat loss.” Source
Sleep deprivation increases hunger and voluntary caloric intake and leads to hindered fat loss in the short term as well as fat gain over time. Source
“…sleep deprivation… has been quantified at around a 20% increase in voluntary energy intake.” Source
5. Sleep deprivation puts your body at a higher stress state so that it is much more susceptible to acute infectious illness, chronic disease, and injury. Lack of adequate sleep not only puts you at risk for acute illnesses (like colds) and injuries, but it also leads to chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, Cardiovascular disease, hypertension, etc.
“Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.” Source
“Long-term lack of sleep also increases your risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease.” Source
6. Lack of sleep impacts your mood. We have all had a night of inadequate sleep and recognized that our mood was poor the following day as a result. What you may not know is that we are at higher risk for developing a mood disorders when you chronically skimp on sleep. Mental health is definitely something we can’t take for granted.
“One large study showed that when you have insomnia, you’re five times more likely to develop depression, and your odds of anxiety or panic disorders are even greater.” Source
Update 6/16/19: I cane across an absolutely phenomenal 3 part podcast on sleep and health implications!
That’s a lot of sound evidence! But, I also know that real life can make things challenging. I’ve even worked the dreaded graveyard shift before—on a computer no less. Even on my days off, I couldn’t get back to baseline. In an ideal world, we would all avoid this. Realistically though, these kinds of jobs aren’t going away any time soon.
If you absolutely are not able to avoid devices due to work reasons (or you are unwilling to implement the electronic curfew), there are a few diffident options to help you work around the blue light issue.
1/ You can use apps like f.lux on your phone or even desktop (download it for free here). F.lux allow you to program when you will wake, then adjusts the screen tone of your device or compute to remove blue light based on how close you are to wake time!
2/ iPhone has a built in option now called Night Shift which allows you to adjust the screen colors! Here is how to set it up:
Go to: Settings → Display & Brightness → Night Shift
You can select times to have it automatically enable, or do it manually… but who would actually remember?! Just make it automatic 😉
3/ You can also use glasses with blue light blocking lenses. They even make some that go over prescription glasses if you wear them like I do. I would suggest that you splurge on the ones that are not tinted, as it is quite odd trying to look at a computer screen with tinted lenses. I made the mistake of getting the tinted ones and don’t like them. I prefer to use f.lux for now, but the screen does change color, so clear blue light blockers may be my top recommendation.
Still don’t you think it would be worth giving up 30 minutes of screen time for these things? Seriously?! Just to be sure, let’s recap:
- More productivity at work
- Less stress
- Better relationships
- Better mental health
- Blessings of provision from God
- More energy
- Improved weight management
- Chronic disease prevention
- Avoiding illness
- Avoiding injury
- The list goes on!
Certainly you must be struggling in one of these areas, and it is worth trying 30 days with an electronic curfew to see what changes you might experience! If I haven’t convinced tou yet, I’m not sure what will!
OK, so now that you have an idea of what the habit looks in practice and the benefits of practicing it, it’s your turn!
For the next 30 days:
- Power down your device (phone, computer, tv, etc.) 30 minutes earlier than you normally do.
- Practical Tips: Set a reminder alert on your phone to help you remember to do this.
- Make note of the most common situations which are likely to trigger you to use your device after this time frame.
- Practical Tips: Plan ahead so that you have something in place to prevent the temptation from overpowering you. For example, if you reach for your device out of boredom, come up with a list of things that you would look forward to doing that perhaps you don’t even make the time to do now such as read, listen to music or an audiobook, discuss fun things with your spouse and kids, or even get a head start on the following day by creating a list of things you need to get done. There’s nothing like hitting the ground running after you’ve actually gotten good sleep, especially when you have a clear objective laid out for your day!
- Make a note of all the different ways you use your devices in the evening.
- Practical Tips: Try to find time spots in other parts of your day to accomplish these tasks.
- Ask a friend or your spouse to join you in this habit.
- Practical tips: Check in with one another and share your struggles so that you can help each other troubleshoot ways to overcome them.
- Make a mental note of how you feel in the morning and any improvements you notice throughout your day after you have practice this habit for several days.
- Practical tips: Call these benefits to mind whenever you don’t feel like following through on your habit.
Don’t forget to share this project with others! You can share the link to this blog post as a status/post on Facebook. Feel free to save and use the image from this post, or use the ones I’ll have on my Instagram page. Whatever other means you have to get more involvement will make this project more fruitful! Tweet, email, pin on Pinterest, etc.
Also, I encourage you to keep track of your journey and use the hashtag #GiveMe30HabitProject on social media. Please tag me in your habit progress and insights! I’ll also be glad to troubleshoot sticking points. I’m Kaci M Byrd Cheeseman on Facebook and @CheeseGirlPA on Instagram.
If you want to check in daily for accountability, you can post either a photo and/or status and use #GiveMe30HabitProject #Day1, #GiveMe30HabitProject #Day2, so on and so forth. I’d love to see how it goes and repost—only if you give me permission, of course! I’ll be searching the hashtag to see who is joining in.
Remember: What is it you want to achieve? Who do you want to become? How do you want to serve others? You may not know how to get there, or even how to get started. I just ask that you trust me and help spread the message to others so they can become involved. Keep showing up, and together we will get you there, one 30 day habit at a time!
Are you ready? Let’s get growing!!
P.S. If you are interested in working on a specific habit and need someone to help you troubleshoot, keep you motivated, and hold you accountable, I offer coaching a variety of ways, which you can learn more about here. My specialty is habit change and my approach is to work on mindset alongside the habit, so that it is healthy and sustainable, and this is best done via 1:1 Coaching which you can learn about here. Whether it involves your health, finances, nutrition, exercise, relationships, or personal growth, habits are the key to success. We are the outcome of what we repeatedly do. Without addressing that, there can be no change. Learn more here!