“If you are struggling with sleep, remove all clock faces from your bedroom,” Walker advised on a recent episode of Peter Attia, M.D.’s podcast, The Drive. “It’s not going to help you to know that it’s now 2:35 a.m. and you still haven’t been able to fall asleep.” Not only will it not be helpful to see what time it is, he says, but it might actually mess with your ability to drift off.
For evidence, he points to a 2007 study published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. In it, 30 “good” sleepers and 30 “poor” sleepers were instructed to either monitor a clock or not monitor a clock for one night as they were trying to fall asleep. They rated their own worry levels and wore a wearable sleep monitor to gauge how the clock monitoring did or did not affect their rest.
“Compared to non-monitors, clock monitors reported more pre-sleep worry, and they experienced longer sleep onset latency,” the report reads. Interestingly enough, this was true for both poor and good sleepers. In a follow-up study that focused only on poor sleepers and expanded the research window to three nights instead of one, the clock was still a source of pre-sleep worry.
The research team concluded that clocks serve to fuel sleep concerns, likening keeping one bedside to “sleeping with the enemy.”