Ready, set, unplug! Tonight through tomorrow evening marks the National Day of Unplugging – a 24-hour period from sundown to sundown – in which people across the country are encouraged to "unplug." This act is both figurative and literal, as participants pledge to turn off their digital devices (such as their phone or tablet) and focus on being fully present as they spend time with friends and family.
But what are the benefits of unplugging? Not only can it help improve your physical and emotional well-being, but disconnecting can also help promote an eco-friendly mindset and even save energy. To discover some of the top benefits, keep reading.
Improve your quality of sleep
Chances are, many of us can relate to this scenario: After a day full of exhaustion and reliance on coffee to stay awake, your brain shifts into overdrive as soon as your head hits the pillow. If you've experienced this, you know how frustrating the situation can be – and how it can create a vicious cycle that often carries into the next day. A common culprit of this epidemic? Excess screen time during pre-bedtime hours, which unplugging can help remedy.
When you limit your use of electronic devices, an amazing thing can happen –more and improved-quality sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 95% of people use some type of device – such as a smartphone, laptop or tablet – before hitting the hay. Exposure to LED-backlit screens hours before bedtime decreases your brain's ability to produce melatonin, the hormone needed for sleep. To improve your ability to count sheep, stop using your phone or computer around two hours before bedtime – and make it a lifelong habit, not just during the National Day of Unplugging.
Have more meaningful interactions
Look up! When you put your phone away and spend time with the people around you, you'll notice that the interactions can be more memorable.
Instead of gathering around the TV to watch a movie while everyone has their smartphone in hand, consider an alternative activity that will require you to look up, communicate and interact. Play a game – yes, an actual board game – together, take a walk in the park or try your hands at a tackling a new recipe for dinner. You'll be glad you did!
Save energy by using less power
According to the Electric Power Research Institute, small devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones don't require a lot of energy to maintain – most smartphones cost a little more than $1 each year to keep a charge. However, powering down and observing the National Day of Unplugging promotes a change in mindset and helps participants become more conscious of their overall energy usage.
It's important to remember that unplugging can mean so much more than just taking a break from your digital communication devices — it can apply to almost any electronic device in your home. By unplugging "energy vampires" — devices that are always on, such as phone chargers, laptops or computer printers and coffee makers — when they're not in use, you could save significantly on your yearly electricity costs.