You can no longer use your smartphone at night with a little help from Android. We know it’s hard to let go, even when research shows that unplugging and unwinding is better for your sleep. Android 11 includes a range of features that can help you set some common sense boundaries. Here’s how to get started.
1. Check your usage
The first step is to face the facts by checking how long you use your phone each day and what you do with it. To get started, go to your system settings and scroll down to Digital Wellbeing, which should be available on almost all Android phones. The Digital Wellbeing hub has many of the tools we̵
You can see how many times you’ve unlocked your phone, how many notifications you’ve received, and more importantly, your app usage broken down by screen time. You can also tap the pie chart at the top of the screen to see breakdowns by app usage for previous days. You can tap the number of notifications to see which apps are sending the most pings. You want to note which apps are responsible for most of your usage, and which ones are bothering you with the most notifications.
2. Create app timers
If you have an app or apps on your phone that are frequently used at night, the Digital Wellbeing chart should show that. Crane Dashboard in Digital Wellbeing to set app timers to remind you to close those apps. This menu shows your most used apps at the top, but you can also open the full app list.
To add a new timer, tap the hourglass icon next to an app. After choosing the daily time limit, the app will appear in an overview with the remaining time when you have it open. When the time is up, the app will close automatically. Android offers a chance to add more time or turn off the timer when this happens, but that beats the point before. You gotta stick to your guns.
3. Night light
You’ll find Google’s night light feature under Display in the main system settings, well away from most digital wellbeing tools. Some OEMs give this feature a different name, but they all do the same thing – shift the color temperature of your screen to the warmer end of the spectrum.
There is some research to suggest that blue light can negatively impact your sleep cycle. While the data is far from compelling, both Android and iOS have included blue light controls in their settings. In Android, you will find this feature on most phones under Settings> Display. You can set a schedule and the intensity of the color overlay, and you’ll never have to stare at that blazing blue light before going to bed again.
4. Do not disturb schedule
Chances are, your digital wellness data shows that you get a lot of notifications – we all do that when you add them up. You can configure Do Not Disturb to turn on at night to reduce your urge to answer the phone. This feature is available on most phones through the Sound & Vibration menu, but is also part of the setup wizard for “Bedtime Mode” in Digitial Wellbeing. However, I recommend going through the manual installation.
In the Do Not Disturb menu, you can choose when you want DND to turn on and what you want it to do. By default, DND mutes and hides notifications on your phone. If you want, you can make notifications visible and you can add exceptions for certain contacts and apps. If you ever want to manually activate DND, there’s a button in the settings menu and a much more accessible toggle in Quick Settings.
5. Grayscale and bedtime mode
We’ve all been there: you’d only check a few emails before going to bed, but it’s suddenly an hour later and you’re still staring at the screen. For the most serious of phone addicts, the grayscale display can remind you to put the phone down. Again, this feature is part of the bedtime mode workflow and is not available anywhere else.
With grayscale mode, your phone will slowly desaturate the colors as bedtime approaches. This is a subtle reminder to stop using your phone and get ready to go to bed. If you enable bedtime mode, you can use it to activate DND and keep the screen dark at night.
6. Focus mode
Finally, there is the focus mode. You’ll find this as an option under Digital Wellbeing, so you can block access to apps of your choice when focus mode is on. First, choose the apps you want to block from the list in this menu. You can schedule focus mode at any time or just tap the focus mode switch in quick settings. In focus mode, apps are “paused” by closing them in the background, making the icon gray, and hiding their notifications. When you turn this feature off, the apps will come back immediately.
Focus mode is a good option when timers and other functions are not working to avoid wasting time. You may also want to consider hiding the Focus toggle in quick settings, so turning this feature off is more difficult.