It’s 11:00 pm. My husband sleeps soundly beside me, while I scroll down a rabbit hole of Facebook links on my iPhone. I stumble upon the enticing title of “30 celebrity couples you never knew were couples.” I click to find out. I must know which celebrity couples escaped my radar! I must! But must I?
No, I mustn’t. In fact, I have been lying here for almost two hours in the pursuit of mindless drivel to occupy my thoughts, so I can drift off to sleep without actually having to think those thoughts in their entirety. And this happens every night. Every. Single. Night for as many years as I can remember owning an iPhone.
Some of these nights are productive. I plot out my social calendar for the coming 3 to 6 months, I add to and edit my to-do list. I catch up on old emails and jot down brilliant business ideas. I write notes to myself about what I feel grateful for. But mostly I end up awake way too long in the dark, in the celebrity link madness of the internet.
I know I should sleep. Yet I just won’t give up until I reach the end of the internet and can finally close my eyes. It’s a problem — a borderline addiction. It’s time to stop. I’ve read all about the neurological implications of blue light before bedtime. I can feel a knot in my neck I suspect is related to propping myself up and reading for hours each night. Most of all, I am wasting, WASTING! precious time I know I could be using for sleep instead. What a slap in the face to every tired parent out there. I challenged myself to go cold turkey for a whole week, and here’s what happened.
I worried the entire day leading up to the first night of this crazy, self-imposed experiment. The looming thought of a night without my usual bedtime phone routine legitimately had me feeling a little bit anxious. I would get busy and forget about it. Then every once in a while my mind would drift back to the idea, and I would get worried. Would it take me forever to fall asleep? Would I fall asleep at all? Or would my mind just race with unbridled thoughts of to-do lists?
That night I left my phone on my nightstand beside me and vowed I wouldn’t reach for it. I got tucked up into bed, closed my eyes, and started to visualize a happy place. The happy place turned into counting backward from 100, which turned into trying to name the capital of every state. That turned into trying to name the quarterback for every NFL team. I didn’t get very far on that one. I have to confess. I caved. I grabbed my phone, BUT! it was just to read my book. I promise I didn’t check anything else — social channels, calendar, nothing. I just read a few pages and drifted off after a short time. But the fact that I did have to reach for it was a bit of a wake up call — no pun intended — as to how addicted I had become.
With the guilt of night one looming over me, I decided to leave my phone outside of my room for the night so I wouldn’t be so easily tempted. I’m happy to report that this did help, and I made it through my first phone-free bedtime in years. I slept well, but honestly, I’ve never had a huge problem in that department, and didn’t find any noticeable changes in mood/feeling in the morning.
Nights three, four, five
I will spare you dragging this out, because the next few nights felt pretty much the same. I was proud of myself for kicking the habit, but didn’t see any big results in terms of restfulness. But every night I got less and less worried about not having my iPhone as a crutch to fall asleep, and each night I fell asleep relatively quicker and easier. Phew! Progress!
Ok, night six was a big one. Firstly, I went to bed with exactly zero feelings of dread about not having my phone with me. Secondly, eureka! the next morning I first noticed my mysterious neck tightness was legitimately gone. Hallelujah! I hadn’t changed anything else up in my routine in terms of exercise, massage, stress, medication or anything like that. I just know it was almost a week’s break from straining my neck to read lying down that did the trick.
This sounds crazy, because I was skeptical of seeing any real change in just one week. However, by the end of this experiment, I truly felt a lot less foggy the minute I woke up in the morning. I generally need a little time and a little coffee to come alive, but I didn’t feel that need so urgently by day seven. Could have been a more restful sleep, could have been the lack of neck tension — or both!
I will admit that waking up after the last night I thought, “Oh great, I can go back to my phone tonight.” Instead, I decided to stay strong and stick it out for as long as I can. I do enjoy reading a good book before bed, which I certainly do not consider a waste of time. Maybe I can reach a happy compromise where I allow myself an allotted time to read — books only! — and then lights out. Wish me luck!