Don't let your phone steal your sleep.

Published: 17 March 2023

Text: Anne-Marie Korseberg Stokke

"Do you bring your phone into the bedroom? Is it the first thing you pick up when you wake up? If you also struggle with sleep, it might be wise to change routines, say the founders of Selah Sleep, Christine Øvstedal and Maria With Hoen."

"According to figures from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, the number of people reporting difficulty sleeping has doubled in the last 10 years. A full 1 in 3 Norwegians now struggle with sleep every week. The two sleep entrepreneurs have both experienced sleep problems and aim to solve them by removing distractions from the bedroom and making good sleep habits easier.

"We know that the smartphone negatively affects sleep for many. Perhaps the most obvious reason is that it can steal sleep time. Instead of sleeping, you end up lying in bed scrolling," says Maria."

Selah Sleep was founded in the fall of 2020 by Christine Øvstedal and Maria With Hoen. They met through a mutual friend and quickly discovered that both had an above-average interest in sleep, health, and well-being.

"Both Maria and Christine use meditation and relaxation techniques to calm down in the evening and start the day well. But even though they have been doing it for many years, they find it difficult to implement without digital aids.

"The paradox is that when we try to find peace through music or meditation or do other good things for our sleep, we very often have to use an app on our mobile. It's easy to get distracted by notifications or tempted to check a feed," says Christine.

The mobile phone thus works against its purpose:

"The design and content on the mobile are cognitively and emotionally stimulating, pushing the brain towards activation and stress. It's not particularly useful when trying to calm down," says psychology student Maria.

Blue light can disrupt sleep

Many have heard that the blue light from the mobile screen is not good in the evening, but may not know that it has a physiological explanation.

"Melatonin is a hormone that promotes sleepiness. The production of this hormone increases when it gets dark in the evening and is at its highest in the middle of the night for most people. The blue light from the mobile screen inhibits the production of melatonin. This can lead to taking longer to fall asleep and taking longer to get into the deeper stages of sleep," explains Maria.

"Teenagers already have a natural shift in the peak production of melatonin, so when they are also exposed to screen light in the evening, many teenagers may not have enough of the important quality sleep before they have to get up for school," adds Christine."

Sleep Clock can lull you to sleep. If you wake up in the middle of the night, just press one button, and you'll get instant sleep assistance.

Selah Sleep: A Good Morning

It's not only before falling asleep in the evening that it's wise to put away the mobile phone. There are also good reasons to give your brain a little rest in the morning.

"In the morning, the brain is in a special state where brain waves are slower, and you are more susceptible than most other times of the day. If you check news websites, emails, or take in other subtly stressful impressions right after waking up, you will likely be more affected by this than usual and carry it with you throughout the day. Of course, you can choose not to check the news after turning off the alarm on your mobile, but it can be terribly difficult to resist when you have it in your hand," says Maria.

The two founders have worked hard since 2020 to develop a product that makes it easier for you to establish good routines in the evening, if you wake up during the night, and in the morning. Selah is the world's first "Calm Clock," designed to help you master the entire sleep cycle from winding down in the evening to completing your morning routine. It provides soundtracks such as meditations, music, sleep hypnosis, and guided breathing exercises available to you in a screen-free way in the bedroom. In the morning, it wakes you up with sunrise light and sounds that gradually build up. You can set up a morning routine that starts automatically after the alarm, such as meditation, a motivational audiobook, or optimistic music—allowing you to end and start the day without a mobile phone and without challenging willpower.

"We strongly believe that Selah will help many people get a good night's sleep. But by removing the mobile phone from the nightstand, you have already come a long way," say the founders.