Having trouble sleeping? This comes as no surprise in the age of rapid-fire digital technology. If you are wired to the gills with pockets full of gadgets and phones, you may pride yourself on missing nothing…except, perhaps, for a good night’s sleep. A recent survey released during National Sleep Awareness Week reveals that usage of such devices close to bedtime affects sleep patterns for the worse. Lights from the phones and pads and PCs generates a distraction, but one can argue there’s much more to it than that.

In order to enjoy a good night’s rest, you must naturally sleep. The bare minimum of seven hours is recommended if you wish to feel refreshed and renewed in the morning. Taking those last minutes before retiring to check your e-mail, text messages, and social pages may ease your mind if you expect to see something important, but it doesn’t necessarily do well to calm you completely. Leaving phones and computer running as you sleep also stands to disrupt you, and can lead to problems down the road.

Consider why you have these devices close when you sleep. You don’t want to miss out on a message, but if you are not a doctor on call or work in a similar position to requires communication after midnight, is there really anything incoming that can’t wait until morning? If the kids are all home and you’re not expecting news from somebody traveling, take the initiative toward a better night’s sleep and go “off the grid” at the night. You are more apt to make better decisions about these messages when you have had some rest.

One disadvantage to technology so close to bedtime is that it can keep your mind racing. When you have problems to solve and ideas to parlay, you will find it challenging to calm yourself and drift away. This is why it’s suggested to read a book to unwind before bed, or pursue another low-key activity that doesn’t require serious thought. Get too involved in something, and you could burn away another thirty to sixty minutes that should have been spent in dream land.

The key to weaning yourself from technological dependency is to first keep the items that tempt you out of the bedroom. This means the PDA, the computer, and even your smart phone. If you want to argue that any of these items has an alarm, simply invest in an alarm clock that only serves that purpose. Out of sight, out of mind is the first step in taking control of your sleep, and when you have only to worry about your bed, reclaiming rest gets much easier.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on organic pillows and latex mattresses.