5 Reasons It’s so Hard to Put Down your Phone at Night

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 1. Habit and Dopamine Dependence

The addictive nature of technology and the constant access to information, social media, and entertainment can make it challenging to break away. Our brains are wired to seek out pleasurable experiences, and the instant gratification provided by smartphones triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with reward and pleasure. This dopamine rush reinforces the habit of reaching for our phones, making it difficult to resist the urge to stay connected.

2. Blue light exposure

Screens emit blue light, which can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles. Exposure to blue light before bed can suppress melatonin and make it more difficult to fall asleep – a vicious cycle. The blue light emitted by our phones tricks our brains into thinking it’s still daytime, disrupting the natural sleep process. As a result, we find ourselves struggling to put down our phones and experience restful sleep.


The fear of missing out on social interactions, news updates, or important notifications can drive us to constantly check our devices, to the point of creating anxiety. Social media platforms constantly bombard us with updates, photos, and status updates from our friends and acquaintances. 

4. Entertainment and Relaxation

Many of us use our devices as a source of entertainment or relaxation before bed. Especially after a long day with children. Whether it’s watching videos, scrolling through social media feeds, or playing games, the allure of digital entertainment can be hard to resist. The convenience and instant gratification offered by our phones often trump the slower, more effortful ways of unwinding such as taking a bath, reading a book, engaging in face-to-face conversations, or creating bedtime rituals that promote relaxation.

5. Work and Productivity

Many of us feel the pressure to check work emails, finish tasks, or prepare for the next day. With smartphones blurring the boundaries between work and personal life, it’s increasingly difficult to disconnect from professional obligations. The constant accessibility to work-related communication can create a sense of urgency and make it challenging to prioritize personal well-being and relaxation. The fear of missing out on important work-related updates or the desire to stay on top of tasks can keep us glued to our screens, even when it’s time to wind down and recharge.



5 Ideas to Help you Decrease Nighttime Viewing

1. Remove Temptation: Keep Chargers Out of the Bedroom

Do not keep any chargers in the bedroom and don’t charge your device past a certain time each day until you’re ready to put it to sleep (this gives you a natural time limit on your phone). By removing chargers from your bedroom, you eliminate the temptation to keep your phone close at hand while you sleep. Setting a specific time to charge your device and sticking to it helps create a boundary, signaling that it’s time to disconnect from technology and focus on rest.

2. Create a Rewarding Bedtime Routine

Create a rewarding bedtime routine for yourself that incorporates some rituals you look forward to like a hot cup of cocoa and a good book. Designing a bedtime routine that brings you joy and relaxation can make it easier to put down your phone. By replacing screen time with activities you enjoy, such as reading a book, sipping a soothing drink, or practicing meditation, you create a positive association with winding down and create an environment conducive to better sleep.

3. Invest in a Standalone Alarm Clock

Invest in a simple alarm clock so you don’t feel the need to use your phone (I love my @oneclockco). Relying on your phone as an alarm clock keeps it within arm’s reach, tempting you to check notifications or engage in late-night scrolling. Investing in a standalone alarm clock not only ensures you wake up on time but also removes the need for your phone to be present in the bedroom, reducing the temptation to use it before bed.

You can even enjoy a special discount of 10% off by using the code MEAGAN10 when purchasing the One Clock here.

4. Take Small Steps: Set Nights without Devices in the Bedroom

Babystep your way towards your goal: choose one or two nights a week you will not have your device in your room and tell someone about it (accountability helps!). Breaking the habit of nighttime phone usage can be challenging, so taking small steps towards your goal can make it more manageable. Start by designating specific nights where you commit to keeping your device out of your room. Sharing this commitment with someone you trust provides a sense of accountability and support, increasing your chances of success.

5. Utilize Screentime Settings and Blocking Apps for Self-Control

Use Screentime settings or other blocking apps (I love @withopal) to create limits and screen-free times for yourself. Taking advantage of the built-in Screentime settings on your phone or using dedicated blocking apps can help you establish boundaries. These tools allow you to set specific time limits for app usage, block distracting apps during designated hours. It can even enforce screen-free periods. By actively managing your screen time, you regain control over your device usage. You also create a healthier balance between technology and restful sleep.


If you’re looking for more information on how to navigate digital habits for your entire family,  checkout my eGuide, “Creating Digital Guidelines for the Whole Family.” It’s packed with valuable insights and practical tips to help you establish a healthier relationship with technology.

Remember, none of us have all the answers or have perfect control over our phone usage. We’re all in this together, trying to find a balance that works for us. So, let’s support each other on this journey and tackle it as a team! Together, we can overcome the challenges of excessive phone usage and embrace a more mindful and fulfilling lifestyle. 🤝



Meagan Wilson is a parent educator and author of the now-retired seasonal series of Whole Family Rhythms. After finishing a BA, she went on to complete her Foundations in Steiner Education and Anthroposophy at Sydney Steiner College, as well as her Waldorf Early Childhood Certification at the Rudolf Steiner Centre in Toronto. She has received her certification as a Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach and has supported hundreds of parents to create a strong family rhythm unique to their own values and culture. She has four young children. Meagan provides resources, support and information to parents who are looking for a bridge to cross between their unique family life and their children’s (often but not always) Waldorf schools.

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