Why you should use an alarm clock instead of your phone.

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Today I want to share an obnoxiously simple trick I’ve tried recently that has proved to be really helpful, especially to improve sleep.

The best thing about it? You can see results as soon as this week!

*Drum roll.*

Buy an alarm clock!

Ok whatever, this is lame, I’m outta here,” you say as you go to close the tab -but wait!

Let me explain.

Smart Phone. Dumb Alarm.

The reality is that the vast majority of us are using our phones as our alarms, I mean why not?

It’s portable, convenient and extremely user-friendly, what’s not to like? What’s crazy is some of the stats around that fact.

According to Deloitte 43% of people check their phone within the first 5 minutes of waking up and 17% check them straight away!

It’s not really that shocking though considering it’s the first thing you come in contact with — to turn off your alarm of course.

Plus if we’re honest most of us have a little morning ritual that includes checking our Facebook, Instagram, emails, the news and the weather — all while we are still bleary eyed and in bed.

“Not a big deal, sure it helps keep us informed, connected and even helps me wake up, no harm done… Right?”

Effects of using a smartphone around sleepy time.

1. Light from phone causes bother: Ever found it hard to fall asleep, like your mind is racing?

Well 35 percent of people check their phones 5 minutes before preparing to sleep and this definitely can lead to that. Not only does it fill your mind with more things to process but studies have been done that link blue light (the type of light your phone emits) to insomnia and depression.

See smartphones are made to be viewable even with the bright sun shining down on your screen…

In fact, our brain can interpret the light from phones as sunlight stopping us from produces melatonin (a sleepy hormone) and gear us to ‘keep going’ because it’s ‘not time to sleep.’

2. Clutters your brain: The reason why meditation has proven to work so effectively is because it allows time for our minds to process things, relax and organise stuff (like a filing cabinet.)

When we look at our phones first thing in the morning and last thing at night we add more files to the cabinet which can lead to disorganisation.

This can explain why some of us have a headache or feel slightly disorientated in the mornings.

Try not looking at your phone for the first hour you wake up and use the time to process and think about your day, you may be surprised by the results.


3. Makes you get less sleep: When I was in Nepal in 2015, we spent 6 days camping in a village up the Himalayas — with no technology or lights.

Some of the team members I was with were shocked at the amount of sleep they were getting, even those who confessed ‘I struggle to sleep more than 5 hours’ were hitting the 10 mark!

That’s crazy! Why? Well quite frankly because there was nothing else to do, once the sun went down you couldn’t see a thing and the pitch black of boredom quickly put you to sleep…

BUT also because our bodies adapted to a normal pattern…

“The biggest assault on humans sleep was the invention of the lightbulb” (click to tweet this!)

You see our sleep patterns were designed to get up with the sun and go down with it, Using our phones around sleep interferes with this process.

We might be tired and ready for bed at 8pm, but instead we decide to watch a movie or surf the web, waking us up and robbing us of a few extra hours of zzz.

4. It has the potential to disturb your sleep. We are trained to respond to the buzz and dings of notifications — it’s a natural response.

Even if your phone doesn’t wake you up in the middle of the night your brain can subconsciously respond to those vibrations and actually disturb your sleep cycle.

To take it a step further up to 50 percent of people check their phones in the middle of the night, you know, that quick email scroll while you do the midnight run to the restroom? Not good for the hay time.

“So what are my options to improve sleep?”

I’ll give you 3 options depending on how serious you wanna get.

1. Low commitment: Night settings for your phone.

When you go to bed turn on the DO NOT DISTURB option.

This means that all notifications are silenced throughout the night meaning your sleep won’t get disturbed.

Another cool feature that Apple and some other phone companies have brought out is a ‘night setting’ for your screen, this basically changes the colour and type of light that is emitted from your phone, so if you HAVE to use your phone close to bed you can minimise the damage.

2. Medium commitment: Buy an alarm clock to replace your phone alarm.

I coughed up the cash and bought a cheap reliable clock I found on Amazon. (disclosure: I receive a percentage of any Amazon sales from this post)

It’s very basic and it’s really old school — but it does the job. That’s it in the photo above beside my bed.

All it takes is 1 AA battery (that actually came with it) and for you to press one button before you go to sleep.

I now leave my phone outside of the bedroom and use this alarm clock instead. I have been pleasantly surprised how well it is working and the difference it has made, but more on ‘My Results’ below.

3. Hardcore mode: Recreate the Sun.

So there are companies that have caught onto the whole ‘sunlight’ thing and actually have made alarm clocks that mimic a sunrise to wake you up as naturally as possible.

On Amazon you can find that Phillips makes a few ‘Wake Up’ alarm clocks that look really interesting, but you will pay a pretty penny for them.

My results:

So I have been trying the low and medium commitments for a few weeks now as well as limiting my social media (rule: not before 9am, not after 9pm.)

I have actually found that my quality of sleep has dramatically improved. I usually need a lot of sleep, but I have found that I wake up more refreshed and make better use of my time than I did before.

For example, when I used my phone first thing in the morning I found that I would take MUCH longer to get out of bed and especially on days I wasn’t working I could easily just binge YouTube videos for ages.

This month I am trying to get up at the same time every day (even off days) and spring straight out of bed, I’ll make a post about the results of this trial soon. (tip: if you want to do this then set your alarm clock far away from your bed.)

I also have replaced my nighttime scrolling with some night time reading, and I have just finished ‘Great Expectation!’ All thanks to that little change.

So that’s it. There’s the results of this little life experiment. Let me know how you guys get on with this and what your results are in the response section bellow…

Just because it works for me doesn’t mean it will work for you but you won’t know if you don’t try!

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All the best,

Live a lot, not just a little.