How to Give Your Bedroom a Digital Detox and Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Swap your tech for these analog comforts

July 27, 2018 9:00 am

During a recent edition of our weekly Staff Picks column, I recommended using an analog alarm clock instead of the one on your phone.

The reason? Well, how much time you got?

Picking up your phone to silence the alarm inevitably leads to early morning scrolling. And you don’t need a scientist to tell you that using your smartphone the instant you wake up is rewiring your brain for the worse.

Oh, you do? You’re in luck. In the Harvard Business Review, a group of scientists recently reported that “the mere presence of our smartphones can adversely affect our ability to think and problem-solve — even when we aren’t using them. Even when we aren’t looking at them. Even when they are face-down. And even when they are powered off altogether.” And that’s not even getting into the perils of using your devices right before bed.

Ergo, if you’re feeling like your quality of sleep has been in a freefall the last few weeks/months/years, step one is to banish your phone. But with “smart” devices in a state of constant proliferation — our bedrooms are now as connected as our living rooms and offices — you may need a few more steps.

Below, a five-step guide to giving your bedroom the digital detox treatment to revert it back to what it should be: a place for R&R.

Swap your smartphone alarm for: Arne Jacobsen Alarm Clock
This is the clock I initially recommended in Staff Picks and, after doing some research to find other affordable options that strike the right balance between function and design, I still stand by it. But if the maroon-and-gold color scheme of the Station Clock will disrupt your feng shui, Arne Jacobsen makes two decidedly more universal options in the Banker’s and City Hall tickers.


Swap your activity tracker for: Sleepy Jones’s Lowell Pajama Set
Unless you’re an elite athlete or someone with a serious sleep disorder, tracking your sleep cycle via a wearable device or phone is more of a novelty than anything else. Instead, pick up a set of age-appropriate pajamas. This set from Sleepy Jones, featured in The Dreamery by Casper, is a perfect blend of comfortable and dapper (should you need to take the dog out in the middle of the night). But make sure to save these for when you’re ready for bed — having a sleep-specific outfit will get your mind to recognize that once the PJs come out, it’s time for sleep.


Swap your sound machine for: Palo Santo sticks
Admittedly, most people don’t use devices that play the sound of whales, rain or white noise — mostly relegated to the pages of SkyMall — but we all have go-to ways to conk out. Instead of turning on Netflix or asking Alexa to play some James Blake, light up a Palo Santo stick. It’ll satisfy your sensory experience, and is less high-school-stoner than most incense, as well as more economic than scented candles.


Swap your television for: a carefully curated, bookend-ed bookshelf
The reason you turn on Stephen Colbert instead of reading a novel before bed is because your current bookshelf is in shambles. So remove your TV, whittle your collection down to 15 books you’ll actually pick up (I recently loved Montpelier Parade) and stick ‘em between a set of handsome bookends.


Swap your smart-sleep devices for: Mospro’s 3D Sleep Mask
Smart pillow. Smart blanket. Smart sun-mimicking lights. Smart sound-blocking earplugs. Look, your body is hard-wired to sleep during certain conditions, with melatonin increasing when it’s dark. If you turn to devices or melatonin ingestibles to put you to sleep, try something much simpler: an eye mask. This one from Mospro is comfy, lightweight and blocks all light.


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