One of the most common discussions we have in our workshops with students is about how much sleep they get and how not getting enough hinders their ability to learn as well as increasing their stress levels. Inevitably, the conversation often ends up being about how they use their phones late into the night.
Anecdotally, we can report that the vast majority of teenagers admit to being on their phone when in bed. Research by Ofcom found that 81% of people never turn their phone off (even at night when in bed). Evidence suggests that people check their phones over 80 times a day. The same study found that people are poor predictors of their own phone use, with most checking their phone twice as much as they think they do.
What are the impacts of excessive mobile phone use? In our blog, 6 Reasons to Put Your Phone Away, we discuss the research that shows that too much time on your phone can result in:
- Reduced concentration
- Increase in FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
- Reduced Memory
- Warps view of reality
- Increased stress and anxiety
- Reduced sleep
Sleep is so important for students. It is linked to how much they learn, how calm they feel and how well they can concentrate. In an ideal world, students will develop the self-control needed to not go on their phone when trying to get to sleep. In an optimistic world, they would not have them in their room at all. This is definitely our advice to all students.
For those who absolutely refuse to be apart from their phone and with exams just around the corner, here is our last minute advice to them:
Don’t have your phone in your bedroom – Recent research found that being on your phone within an hour before bed means that you are almost three times as likely to get less than five hours sleep. One popular objection to this suggestion is that people use their phones for an alarm clock the following day. The solution to this can be found here.
If you have your phone in your room, don’t read it in bed – Reading your phone in bed is not a good look. It is important that students establish a consistent bed time routine that helps you fall asleep. Reading books or magazines instead of phones and tablets is more likely to lead to a less disturbed and more settled sleep.
If you read it in bed, turn down the backlight – Having a bright backlight can stop your brain from releasing melatonin. Melatonin is the sleep hormone and the bright backlight from your phone tricks your brain into thinking it is still daytime. People who turn down the backlight on their phone and hold their phone more than 12 inches from their face consistently get a better nights sleep.
If you turn down the backlight, set yourself a time limit – It’s good to set yourself a deadline. Otherwise, time flies and you can quickly find yourself playing Angry Birds or Candy Crush at 0100 in the morning.
If you set a time limit, don’t go on social media – One of the best ways to help you fall asleep is to get to a state that is calm and relaxed. Just as with Angry Birds or Candy Crush, time can rapidly fly away when on social media.
If you go on social media, don’t read stressful stuff - If students go on social media and read stories or watch videos that make them stressed or alert, they will release hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones make you feel on edge, something which is not conducive to falling asleep. Recent research has highlighted how being on social media too much late at night can have this exact effect.
If you read stressful stuff, don’t reply to it – Just don’t. It’s never worth it.