I cannot tell if smartphone mania has hit a peak or if usage is still increasing, but based on a new study, it is still on the upswing.

If you find yourself obsessively checking your phone—including checking e-mail in middle of the night—it is time for an intervention.

Your brain needs rest

According to a recent study, one in three workers regularly gets up in the middle of the night to check e-mail and almost half of the people surveyed said they cannot sleep without their smartphone in reach. That is scary stuff.

Your brain, like the rest of your body, needs rest. How many times have you gone to bed perplexed about an issue, only to wake up the next morning with a clear head and new ideas?

Checking your e-mail in the middle of the night will cause your brain to wake up and engage when it needs to rest. You will also probably lose sleep, which means you will be tired, which means you won’t be thinking straight the next day, etc.

Responding is different from merely checking e-mail

I am fortunate enough to run a solo practice, so I do not receive e-mails from co-workers working strange hours. But I also recognize there are many attorneys who are required to answer e-mails at all hours.

If you find yourself in that situation, respond if necessary. But responding is much different from proactively getting out of bed to just check in and see if anything is new. That can be a tough habit to break.

In addition, e-mails sent in the middle of the night do not generally require an immediate response. Waiting until you wake up to respond will usually be fine. The danger in always checking and always responding is that you create the expectation that you will always respond in the middle of the night.

Your brain needs rest. Keep your smartphone away from your nightstand and avoid checking your e-mail in the middle of night.


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