Sleep Time Not Screen Time

What’s the first thing you do in the morning? Do you shut off the alarm on your phone – then check your emails, social accounts, and text messages? If you wake up in the middle of the night, do you do the same thing? I’d be willing to bet you wake up for a noble reason, like taking care of your kids or letting the dog out, but you stay up because you systematically put a blue screen in front of your face for absolutely no reason other than habit.

I used to be guilty of the same bad habit. Constantly checking my phone no matter the time and falling down the rabbit hole of checking all the apps on my phone.

It’s a habit I worked hard to break because I knew how bad it was for me. I wouldn’t be surprised  if you told me you were trying to break the same pattern too. 

I got serious about changing my screen habits when I picked up a physical, paper copy of a magazine and started reading. I had intentionally put my phone away so I wouldn’t mindlessly scroll. I came across a picture I liked in the magazine, then “double tapped” it with my thumb because I had trained my brain to “heart” an image I like. I was horrified. 

Let’s Kick It, Old-school 

Going back to old school technology is one of my favorite solutions when I am committed to managing my screen time. Instead of using my phone to take pictures, I use an actual camera. Instead of using my tablet to listen to music, I tune into the radio. The same goes for my sleep routine. Instead of using my phone as an alarm, I dug out my old college alarm clock. It’s orange and slightly see-through so that I can see the clocks inner workings. Remember those? Nostalgia at its best. It’s also insanely loud, so I physically cannot sleep through it. It’s a win-win!

Using that same logic of charging my phone in The Den during the day to break my midnight phone habit, I’m keeping it out of reach at night too. I’m charging my phone using an outlet across the room because, yes, walking a few feet to look at it is a sufficient deterrent. 

I use the same tricks for my kids. I never allow them to have a device in their room, let alone within arms reach of their bed because I know without a doubt, they wouldn’t be able to leave it alone. Taking full advantage of the screen time app The Den came with; my oldest never asks to bring her tablet to bed anymore because the reward for putting her tablet away is more significant than playing a digital game. 

I know my kids are always watching me. If I had continued to have a phone in my hand, even in the middle of the night, they were going to think that’s OK. It’s not. I understand parents cannot keep our kids away from smart devices during the day, but the least we can do is keep turning their bedrooms into device-free zones using parenting control software.

This is important and here’s why: when kids keep any device in their room, even if it’s off and charging, it affects their sleep schedule. If they use a phone as an alarm, they’re starting the day as most adults do, and more than likely roll over to look at their phones when they wake up in the middle of the night. 

I’m not making this up either. I know this because I read it in a study recently published by Common Sense media. It really hit home. In fact, 7 out of 10 kids sleep with a phone in their room and one-third wake up to check it in the middle of the night.

This study dives deep into why our kids need an ample amount of sleep to grow, manage their emotions, have a clear mind, fight off germs they pick up at school and even prevent injury. In fact, 91% of kids that had two or more injuries in a year had nine hours of sleep or fewer. Clumsy kid or exhausted kid? Check their sleep habits first. 

I’m aware I keep comparing myself to school-age children, but the parallels are uncanny. I rarely get more than six hours of sleep a night, and I’m always stubbing a toe or hitting my hip on the counter. 

So you can imagine when our kids aren’t getting the proper amount of sleep because their mobile device keeps them awake, it affects their entire well-being. Kids sleep better at night and feel more rested in the morning when devices aren’t in the bedroom.

Symptoms of sleep-deprivation and ADHD mirror each other almost exactly. 

For school-age kids, research has shown that adding as little as 27 minutes of extra sleep per night makes it easier for them to manage their moods and impulses so they can focus on schoolwork. We can manage to give our kids an extra 27 minutes of sleep, right? Start by taking screens out of the room and you’re halfway there. 

Sleep is ranked high on what helps our kids become successful and is right up there with family time and extracurriculars. So what if you could help your kids sleep better at night? Wouldn’t you? 

What would it mean for your entire family if a smart charging station managed screen time and also securely stores devices? It would make those extra 27 minutes easier to uncover, a shift in your family dynamics, improved academic performance and increased peace of mind for you. 

Megan Cahak is a contributing TechDen writer, mom of two, firefighter wife, and is the owner of a copywriting company specializing in supporting small business growth online and in real life. Behind her big business dreams is a woman on a mission to make others laugh and nod their heads in solidarity when talking kids & technology, free-range parenting (that’s a thing), and the ‘good ole days’ of growing up in the late 90s, early 2000s. Unrelated, Megan’s been really into Lisa Frank ever since her daughter went back to school.