hand with phone

TN50#64, Digital Sunsets, 21 March 2022

Hi Team,

Digital Sunset, is a term I first heard from Brian Johnson (you can watch or read his 2 minute +1 on Digital Sunsets, here).  I immediately fell in love with this term because it presents a complete concept in just 2 words.  Right?  You have read the phrase, Digital Sunset, 4 times now in less than 70 words and you already have a pretty good guess as to what it means.

For most of us, where ever we are in the world, the sun goes down every day.  Our not-too-distant ancestors had no choice but to have the day’s work wrapped up by this time.  The sun setting was a natural transition from the work phase of the day to rest phase of the day.  Life for me has included periods of the opposite, the sun going down initiated the work phase of the day, the sun coming up meant that it was time to rest.  Regardless of being a night walker or day walker incorporating a “digital sunset” as part of your shut down routine before sleep is important.  Just in case you haven’t been stuck in a sauna with me for 30 minutes while I rant about Sleep.  Here are my top 3 controllable inputs that influence sleep.

The Three Inputs that are the easiest to manage for a good night sleep are:

  1. Food (calories) – Generally speaking everyone sleeps better if they haven’t had anything to eat or drink, besides water or an occasional sleepy tea 2 hours, or more, before bed.
  2. Light – Blue light is great for waking up but it should be minimized before bed.  This includes using “night” settings on all your devices, TV, computer, phone, et cetera around sundown until your Digital Sunset.
  3. Digital Sunset – No work emails, no texting, no scrolling social media, no news apps that are going to fire you up.  Meaning electronics are turned off and/or put away WAY before bed time.

If you watch Brian’s video you will see/hear that he actually turns his phone off and puts it in the closet.  When Brian’s kids are old enough to be out after dark this probably won’t be the case, so yes there are exceptions.  Here are 3 that come to mind:

  1. You use a sleep meditation app that’s on your phone
  2. You read before bed on a Kindle or iPad, make sure you have the screen on “night setting”.
  3. Your 3 teenagers are out at a youth group event and you are keeping your phone handy for obvious reasons.  Yes, we currently have 3 teenagers in the house, keep us in your prayers!

One fairly subjective thing I hear scientists talking about and have personally noticed is that standard TV doesn’t seem to be as stimulating as scrolling on your phone and therefore might not be as big a deal when it comes to disturbing Sleep.  Of course, this isn’t the case if you are watching your team win at the buzzer during March Madness 10-minutes before bed time – like all things in life context matters.  I would imagine some lab is testing this and we might have some useful data on it soon, so stay tuned.

What’s your digital sunset currently look like?  The North Pole on the 21st of June (24 hours of sunshine) or do you lock all your electronics down at 5 pm automatically and keep them locked down until 3 pm the next afternoon, like Brian Johnson?  My guess is it isn’t either of these but somewhere in between.  Or maybe this is a new concept for you and you never really thought about a Digital Sunset before.

Use these 4 simple guidelines to create your Digital Sunset protocol:

  1. Define what your Initial Digital Sunset plan looks like, here are 3 examples for a 10 pm bedtime, with a 1-hour absolute Digital Sunset.
    • I will stop all job-related work: turn off my computer, no more calls, emails, WhatsApp, et cetera by 7 pm, latest
    • I will stop using my personal smart phone for everything other than the meditation app by 8:30 pm
    • I will turn off the TV by 9 pm
  2. Pace yourself, if you have fallen asleep with the TV in your bedroom being on and your smartphone in your hand and work laptop beside you 4 nights a week for the last 3 years, ease into a new Digital Sunset plan that is doable.
  3. Give yourself some grace as you get started with this and when you mess it up a night or five nights in a row, reset and start over.
  4. Once your initial plan is going well, you can consider it your baseline and build a new stretch plan to continue improving your Digital Sunset protocol.

Think the world might stop rotating on its axis if you aren’t able to reply to that email from your coworker at 11 pm?  Like the 369 pictures that your sister’s college roommate just put on Facebook before turning in?  Read about the most recent screw up from Trump or Biden before night-night?

It won’t.

Digital Sunsets, you need it, build one today.

As always, please share your thoughts and share this with your team or anyone who might find it useful.

Have a good one, Alex

2022 Murph Count: 41