Today (17th March) is World Sleep Day, and this year’s theme is: Sleep is Essential for Health. After a long day, sleep is necessary to help you rest, recover and perform your best the following day. But late night scrolling, delayed bedtimes and saggy old mattresses can sabotage your sleep, resulting in a disturbed or restless night.
Personally, I love my sleep but I’m also guilty of staying up to watch one more Netflix episode and having a late night Instagram scroll. So, when Emma asked me to take their ‘Switch Off to Switch On’ challenge, I was excited to give it a go.
The Emma ‘Switch Off to Switch On’ challenge encourages people to prioritise their sleep health and minimise their stress levels. According to Emma, 1 in 3 Brits say their sleep is worse after using their phones before bed. To combat this, Emma decided to challenge its customers to say no to screen time for 30 minutes before bed, switch off from social media and take two ‘switch off’ moments a day to enjoy offline activities, like meditating, exercising or trying a new hobby.
I decided to give this sleep challenge a try for 5 days to reduce my anxiety, get a better night’s sleep and wake up feeling ready to take on the day… and this is what happened.
5-day sleep challenge: how did it go?
I decided to start this challenge on a Sunday so I could enter a new week feeling rested and prepared. I’ve been enjoying ‘Sunday resets’ this year, where I do important tasks around the house and take time for myself to relax and rejuvenate so it seemed fitting to start a sleep challenge on this day. I had my first ‘switch off’ moment when I went for a long run, enjoying the fresh air and nature, before I set up a new addition to my bedroom: a sunrise lamp.
A sunrise alarm clock, also known as a wake up light, is designed to wake you up naturally by mimicking the rising of the sun. It does this by gradually brightening its light in the morning to wake you up bit-by-bit. Wake up lights also provide soft lighting that you can use as a bedside lamp or as a way to wind down in the evenings. After I set it up, I made sure to schedule the sunrise cycle for the next morning and used it as a bedside light to read a book. Reading a few pages rather than scrolling on my phone really helped me relax and feel sleepier quicker, thanks to the lack of blue light exposure. When I fell asleep, I slept much more deeply and found myself waking up more easily in the morning.
The next few days I tried to concentrate on doing things in the evening that I knew I’d enjoy and would help me relax and stay off my phone. Running, listening to music rather than scrolling through Instagram and reading before bed were all things I found easy to fit into my routine and made unwinding after a long day much easier.
A couple of days into the sleep challenge, I decided to kick it up a notch by avoiding going on my phone after 6pm and filled my evening with relaxing and creative activities. One day, I took a bath and chose scents that would make me feel sleepy, like lavender. Lavender is one of the best essential oils that reduces anxiety, aids relaxation and encourages sleep… and it definitely worked as I slept like a log that night!
On the final night, I wanted to avoid my phone entirely and decided to try something creative. I did a quick journaling exercise – I’d tried journaling every day for a month earlier in the year and found it very therapeutic. After that, I did some watercolour painting which was fun and relaxing – I didn’t touch my phone once that evening.
5-day sleep challenge: Verdict
Switching off and avoiding technology in the evening definitely helped me relax, sleep better and reduce stress and anxiety. Not scrolling on your phone is a simple thing to avoid doing but consciously remembering to put it down and do something else is a big feat, especially considering we spend an average of 47 minutes a night scrolling and 51% of people say that using their phone is the last thing they do before bed, according to Emma’s research.
I’d definitely encourage people to try the ‘Switch Off to Switch On’ challenge as I slept incredibly well each night. Doing things for yourself like cooking a nutritious meal, going for a walk, reading or trying a new hobby is a form of wellness that can have amazing benefits to your mind and body, and you might sleep better than you ever have before.
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