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How To Put An End To Doomscrolling In Bed

The consequences of doomscrolling extend beyond a mere waste of time. Research has illuminated the profound impacts of this behaviour on mental health and well-being.

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Picture this: you're nestled under your cozy blanket, ready to bid goodnight to the world. But wait! What's that glow? Ah, yes, it's your smartphone, beckoning you to embark on a journey through the digital abyss. And so, with a tap and a swipe, you find yourself tumbling down the rabbit hole of endless scrolling, where doom and gloom await at every turn.

What Is Doomscrolling?

Doomscrolling refers to the compulsive act of endlessly scrolling through social media feeds or news websites, often fixating on distressing or negative content. Whether it's updates on global crises, political unrest, or personal tragedies, individuals caught in the cycle of doomscrolling find themselves unable to disengage from the constant stream of negativity.

A survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation reveals that over half of Americans engage with their phones within an hour of bedtime, a practice experts caution against. Melissa Milanak, an associate professor specializing in sleep health, emphasizes the importance of allowing the brain to wind down before sleep, likening it to letting a hot casserole cool before refrigerating it. Without this wind-down period, deep sleep, crucial for bodily restoration, remains elusive.

While the adverse effects of smartphone usage on sleep are well-documented, it’s not just the blue light emitted by screens that disrupts sleep patterns. The act of doomscrolling through news feeds or succumbing to algorithm-driven content tailored to captivate users can also contribute to sleep disturbances. Lisa Strauss, a licensed psychologist, highlights how technostress and the allure of engaging content can prolong screen time, delaying sleep further.

Breaking the cycle of late-night screen usage requires a concerted effort to redesign bedtime routines. Milanak suggests replacing screen time with activities that promote relaxation, such as reading physical books or listening to podcasts. Establishing a routine that involves non-screen activities not only helps in unwinding but also trains the brain to associate the bed with sleep rather than stimulation.

Creating a distinct environment for sleep by relocating phone usage to another room and minimizing screen brightness are practical strategies to mitigate the allure of screens at night. For those who find complete cessation unrealistic, setting phones on night mode and minimizing notifications can reduce the adverse effects of late-night screen usage.

The Impacts of Doomscrolling

The consequences of doomscrolling extend far beyond a mere waste of time. Research has highlighted several detrimental effects associated with this behaviour:

  1. Increased Anxiety and Stress: Constant exposure to negative news and distressing content can elevate stress levels and exacerbate feelings of anxiety. The relentless barrage of alarming headlines and tragic events can leave individuals feeling overwhelmed and emotionally drained.

  2. Impaired Sleep Quality: Engaging in doomscrolling right before bedtime can disrupt sleep patterns and impair sleep quality. The exposure to bright screens and distressing content stimulates the brain, making it difficult to unwind and fall asleep peacefully.

  3. Negative Mood and Well-Being: Doomscrolling has been linked to a decline in overall mood and well-being. The constant inundation of negative information can foster feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and despair, leading to a negative outlook on life.

  4. Impact on Productivity and Focus: Spending excessive time doomscrolling can detract from productivity and focus during the day. Constantly refreshing feeds and consuming sensationalized content can detract from important tasks and responsibilities.

Strategies for Controlling Doomscrolling

Breaking free from the cycle of doomscrolling requires conscious effort and deliberate strategies. Here are some tips to help regain control over screen time and mental well-being:

  1. Set Boundaries: Establish limits on the amount of time spent on social media and news websites each day. Use features like screen time controls or app timers to enforce these boundaries and prevent excessive scrolling.

  2. Curate Your Content: Take control of your digital environment by curating your social media feeds and news sources. Unfollow accounts or mute keywords that consistently share negative or distressing content, and prioritize sources that provide balanced and constructive information.

  3. Practice Mindfulness: Cultivate mindfulness and awareness of your online behavior. Pay attention to how doomscrolling impacts your mood and energy levels, and make a conscious effort to disengage when you notice yourself getting caught in the cycle.

  4. Engage in Alternative Activities: Replace doomscrolling with activities that promote relaxation and well-being. Spend time outdoors, engage in hobbies, or connect with loved ones offline to counteract the negative effects of excessive screen time.

  5. Establish Tech-Free Zones: Designate certain times or spaces in your daily routine as tech-free zones. Avoid using electronic devices in the bedroom or during meals, and create opportunities for genuine human connection and restful downtime.

By implementing these strategies and fostering a healthier relationship with digital media, individuals can reclaim control over their attention and mental well-being.