I am not one to make New Year’s resolutions, but this year I thought maybe I should go back to using a regular alarm clock and turn my digital devices off an hour before going to bed. Recent studies have proven that our beloved electronics may hinder sleep.
Although this resolution could be quite beneficial, I couldn’t help thinking about the following:
“What if I miss a breaking news alert from CNN?”
“What if I don’t respond to a time-sensitive text?”
“What if Beyoncé releases another album on Instagram at midnight?
I guess you can say I have a slight case of “Fear of Missing Out,” popularly known as FOMO. Aside from these hypothetical scenarios, you may find yourself experiencing work-related FOMO. It’s no secret that many of us use electronics to sift through emails or work-related checklists one last time before turning off the lights. Although those 30 minutes at 10 PM on Microsoft Outlook seem harmless, your production of melatonin can be effected. The blue light within electronics can increase brain activity and prevent the pineal gland from releasing melatonin hours before bedtime. This results in your body fighting off the feeling of being tired. While it is advantageous to have your devices on at work to increase alertness, if your goal is rest, blue lights can become the enemy.
So how can we enjoy technology and still gain quality rest?
The idea is gaining momentum worldwide—in 2013, Germany implemented a new practice, discouraging employees from sending work emails after hours, except in cases of emergencies. In 2014, France took to the trend, encouraging employees to turn off their phones and refrain from checking email after their work is complete. Companies such as Volkswagen, Google and Facebook have also made efforts in discouraging late-night email correspondence.
Perhaps we can impose some discipline on our social interactions, but it could be hard to enforce digital abstinence, for example, when you are working on a pitch. But we can still make an effort to promote more healthful digital habits for our teams and ourselves. Perhaps you can set an “email silence” time with your team after jobs are no longer routing for the night. Or insist on a phone call if an emergency arises, rather than constantly trading email. Anything to avoid staring at the blue light into the late hours of the night.
So whether your FOMO is attributed to social or work activities, making a few minor changes can help you enjoy your device and not compromise resting. You may even fall in love with, dare I say, paperback books again in the quest to take small breaks from your gadgets. If so, author Ann Droyd offers a humorous quick read titled Goodnight iPad that could bring a chuckle the next time you see one of your blue-light glowing friends.
If you’re not ready to go cold turkey and find yourself having a hard time being pried away from the phone or tablet, try f.lux. This program can be downloaded to your electronic devices and uses warmer lights instead of blue lights, to help the production of melatonin remain uninterrupted. With this work-around, you may be able to watch episodes of Orange Is the New Black on Netflix, sift through the week’s sports rankings, meander through Pinterest recipes for quinoa, and even pay Microsoft Outlook a visit. Just make sure you and your digital gadgets can say, “Good night.”
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