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Article  •  4 November 2019


Switch off before you drift off

From The Magic of Sleep, five tips for cutting out smartphone distractions.

After Alex Tew and Michael Acton Smith started their hugely successful guided meditation app Calm, they noticed something surprising while analysing the data. Every evening, around 11pm, there was a huge spike in usage. So they investigated, and realised that millions of people were using the app to help them fall asleep at night. This led to an idea: what if they could create unique bedtime tales for grown-ups that were designed to help people relax and drift off? Sleep Stories was born. And they have been a huge success – with over 150 million listens around the world.

Drawing on this success, as well as leading research and fascinating anecdotes, Acton Smith has created The Magic of Sleep: the ultimate handbook for healthy sleeping. We too often ignore the signs of sleepiness because we want to finish that project at work, enjoy nights out with friends or binge-watch the latest series on Netflix. And by running on too little sleep, we turn into quivering emotional wrecks who cannot process thoughts or problems efficiently. But small and significant changes can start to redress the balance.

The Magic of Sleep is designed to help you develop your own, customised daily habits for a better sleeping life. It’s packed with advice, trivia, quotes, stories and the latest scientific research to help inspire, educate and entertain you on your journey to better sleep. In the passage below, Acton Smith offers some tips for switching off before drifting off.


Make your phone sleep-friendly

1. Switch on night mode – such a setting reduces the brightness of your phone’s screen and filters out the blue light. If you like, you can automate this setting to turn on at a certain time every day. Certain apps, such as Twitter and f.lux, have night-time versions.

2. Set up an automatic ‘do not disturb’ or use airplane mode – this turns off all notifications and mutes all calls and messages. (Airplane mode lets you continue to use the alarm clock and/or certain apps.)

3. Turn off or customize notifications – some apps, such as Snapchat and Instagram, have default settings that trigger notifications to draw you back to the app. Customizing such settings can help you use your phone more mindfully.

4. Track and limit your usage – use an app like Moment, Toggl or Harvest, or even inbuilt features of your phone, to track your usage time. If you find yourself on Twitter until the early hours of the morning, it might be useful to switch off activity from a certain time or after a certain number of minutes in an app.

5. Listen to a story – Calm has a growing library of Sleep Stories in the form of sleep-inducing tales that mix soothing words, music and sounds to help listeners wind down and drift off to dreamland.

The Magic of Sleep Michael Acton Smith, DK

From the makers of the Calm app comes a complete guide to sleep - its science, history, mysteries, and remedies from all around the world - and how to do it better.

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