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The importance of disconnecting: why you shouldn’t look at your mobile phone before bed or upon waking up
There is growing evidence suggesting that excessive phone usage, especially during the last moments before sleep and the first moments upon waking, can have detrimental effects on our brain function and overall wellbeing. Here’s why you need to stop looking at your phone first thing in the morning.
The brain’s sleep stages: alpha, theta, and beta waves
Did you know there are different stages of brain activity; namely alpha, theta, and beta waves? And that mobile phone usage during these crucial periods affects how your brain functions?
Before delving into the impact of mobile phone usage though, let’s look at these different stages of brain function.
The brain exhibits distinct patterns of electrical activity known as brain waves, which are measured using an electroencephalogram (EEG).
Alpha waves are associated with relaxed, wakeful states. They occur when the mind is in a state of calmness, such as during meditation or just before falling asleep. Alpha waves help promote a sense of relaxation and mental clarity.
Theta waves are slower and occur during light sleep, drowsiness, and the early stages of deep sleep. These waves play a vital role in the dreaming process and in memory consolidation. They are essential for creative thinking, problem-solving, and emotional processing.
Beta waves are associated with wakefulness, alertness, and active mental engagement. They are predominant during our waking hours and are characterized by faster, more intense brain activity. Beta waves enable us to focus, make decisions, and process information effectively.
The impact of mobile phone usage at bedtime
Mobile phones emit blue light, which can interfere with the natural sleep-wake cycle and disrupt the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. The use of mobile phones before bed can delay the onset of alpha and theta waves, hindering the brain’s ability to relax and transition into restorative sleep.
Additionally, the content we consume on our phones can be stimulating and emotionally engaging. This can trigger an increase in beta wave activity. Social media, news updates, and work-related messages can create a state of heightened arousal, making it challenging to wind down and achieve quality sleep
The importance of natural wakefulness
Waking up naturally, without the immediate stimulation of a mobile phone, allows our brain to transition smoothly from the theta and delta sleep stages to the alertness of the beta stage.
By giving ourselves time to wake up gradually, we allow the body to adjust its hormone levels, regulate blood pressure, and prepare for the day ahead. This can enhance cognitive function, mood, and overall wellbeing.
The same way the content on our phones can over stimulate us at nighttime goes for the mornings. You’re straight into busy mode, with no time for reflection or to engage in creative thinking.
Furthermore, the constant exposure to notifications and alerts can foster a sense of dependency and cognitive overload, leading to increased stress levels and reduced cognitive performance during the day. For heaven’s sake, at least start the day with a bit more zen.
When to minimize mobile phone usage
To promote healthy brain function and a restful sleep cycle, ditch the mobile phone at least one hour before bedtime. This timeframe provides an opportunity to wind down, engage in relaxing activities, and create a conducive environment for sleep. Instead of using your phone, you can consider reading a book, practicing mindfulness exercises, or engaging in light stretching. Yeah, yeah, we know. Do the book thing, at the very least.
Similarly, upon waking, try to delay reaching for your phone immediately. Allow yourself some time to engage in a morning routine that encourages a gentle transition into wakefulness.
Instagrammers might suggest deep breathing exercises, journaling, or practicing gratitude. We’re a bit more realistic. Maybe just wake up naturally, go with the flow, let your brain do its thing, and do a bit of conscious breathing. Honestly, it’s a far better way to start the day.
Healthy alternatives for your brain
Instead of relying on mobile phones for entertainment or information, there are several activities you can engage in to support your brain’s wellbeing:
Engage in physical exercise
Regular physical activity promotes better sleep, enhances mood, and boosts cognitive function. Consider activities such as walking, jogging, yoga, or any other form of exercise that suits your preferences.
Practice mindfulness and meditation
Do it. These practices help calm the mind, reduce stress, and improve overall mental wellbeing. Allocate time each day to focus on your breath, observe your thoughts without judgment, and cultivate a sense of inner peace.
Read a book
Reading before bed is a great alternative to phone usage. It not only relaxes the mind but also expands knowledge and stimulates imagination.
Connect with loved ones
Instead of scrolling through social media, dedicate time to connect with family and friends. Engage in meaningful conversations, share experiences, or plan activities together.
Are you addicted to your phone?
In a world where mobile phones have become ubiquitous, it is crucial to recognise the impact of excessive usage on our brain’s function and overall wellbeing. By minimising phone usage before bed and upon waking, we can promote healthier sleep patterns and allow our brain to transition smoothly between its different stages of activity.
Embracing alternatives such as physical exercise, mindfulness practices, reading, and nurturing human connections can contribute to a more balanced and fulfilling life. Let us strive for a healthier relationship with our mobile devices and prioritize the wellbeing of our brains and bodies.
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