In theory, your bedroom should be a peaceful sanctuary where a good night’s sleep awaits after a long day.
In reality, bedrooms tend to be as chaotic and technology-packed as the rest of our homes, offices and cars.
WiFi and 4G ensure we’re always online, while push notifications and apps are designed to prolong device usage by persuading us to spend more time on specific activities.
As a result, the Sleep Council’s latest annual report reveals we’re sleeping for less time than we were five years ago.
Three quarters of people sleep for less than seven hours a night, with 30 per cent of us enduring a poor sleep more often than not.
And while “just doing this before I go to sleep” might seem productive there and then, it’ll be the exact opposite when your mental acuity is lower tomorrow morning…
Is excessive smartphone use to blame?
Numerous studies have shown excessive smartphone use is a major factor behind any deterioration in sleep quality.
The mental stimulation provided by entertainment and gaming keeps us awake, as does the mental focus required to use social media platforms or communicate with one another.
Smartphones also emit light waves which increase sleep onset latency – the amount of time it takes us to fall asleep once we’re tucked up under the covers.
Electromagnetic radiation and the uncomfortable poses we adopt while holding an electrical device at arm’s length are other contributors to wakefulness.
But if you simply can’t go to bed without your phone coming along, what can be done to minimise its impact once the lights go out?
Move away from the blue light. Blue light has been scientifically proven to have adverse side effects, preventing the brain from secreting the sleep hormone melatonin.
As a result, smartphone manufacturers and operating system developers have started adding blue light filters into their handsets, making devices less harmful to use late at night.
For instance, Android Oreo users should drag down from the top of the screen, expand the drop-down menu and choose Blue light filter.
Stick to sedentary apps. Social media is designed to give us an endorphin rush when people engage with us, or incite us to respond if we disagree with something.
Any kind of gameplay is also likely to accelerate rather than subdue our mental activity levels, though Sudoku will clearly be less disruptive than Colin McRae Rally.
Night-time and reading make ideal bedfellows, so prioritise text-based apps like Amazon Kindle or TripAdvisor – while avoiding potential arguments on Mumsnet and Reddit.
Turn on usage notifications. It’s easy to overlook how reliant we are on our phones for gaming and entertainment, communication and lifestyle management.
The latest versions of Android and iOS include activity trackers, which monitor how frequently we unlock our devices and how long we spend using individual apps.
Turning on applications like Apple’s Screen Time is often better at shaming us into tackling excessive smartphone use than any number of well-meaning internet blogs like this.
Put the phone on silent. Push notifications are great at certain times of the day, but they’re rarely welcome at 3am.
If there’s a genuine emergency, people will phone you – everything else can wait until the morning.
Contrary to urban myth, alarm clock apps still make noise if the device is set to silent or Airplane mode – which is a handy shortcut for blocking out unwanted notifications overnight.
Leave it out. The best advice is simply to leave your phone outside the bedroom – or at the very least, out of reach.
Sleep experts recommend preparing for bed by staying up until you’re really tired, then going to bed and immediately turning off any lights or electrical devices.
If you haven’t fallen asleep within half an hour, get up and read or watch TV in another room until your eyelids begin to close.