Restful sleep is a new luxury that I haven’t been able to fully enjoy or understand until now.
I had to own up to the fact that choosing to look at my phone before bed up until the exact moment that I closed my eyes for the night was not good for me. Even keeping it next to me on the nightstand was ruining my rest. This was my process in shifting the habit:
Step 1: Deactivate Instagram account
This was a difficult one for me, but I did it. I made a commitment to take an indefinite break from this particular social media platform. There’s no such thing as “mindless scrolling”. Viewing versions of other people’s lives A) made me feel like I was not cool enough B) made me question the various degrees of truth behind people’s posts. Too much precious mind work was being wasted on this ritual. I’ve been officially off since April 18, 2021. I had even forgotten that this was an original goal of mine that I wrote about in my very first blog post in 2018. Reaching goals is fun.
Step 2: Stop looking at Pinterest and reading the local news
After I quit Insta, I still found two loopholes for the bedtime scroll. I couldn’t have chosen 2 worse substitutions for IG. I thought Pinterest would teach me some valuable new information as a way to close out my day on a productive note and set a goals for tomorrow. Big mistake. It had the same effects that I had mentioned above regarding Instagram. Reading the local news before bed was a HUGE no brainer. No further detail needed. Never doing that again.
Step 3: Physically remove phone from sleeping space
Yes, I had to actually go through the first 2 steps to finally come to the conclusion that I simply should not have the phone anywhere near my bed at all. Seems like an illogical order, but that’s how it played out.
Figuring out the overnight location of the phone was also a bit of a process. I wanted it away from the bed, but I still couldn’t wrap my head around it being completely out of the room. I/it landed on a nice little spot on my dresser “next door” in the closet with it’s own charger and even a cute rug to lay on (thrifted and gifted to me from my daughter’s old dollhouse furniture). My phone now has it’s own bed to sleep in while I sleep. SILLY. But necessary for me at this time.
Bonus Step: Let the phone sleep in
When the night is over and a new day begins, I’ve been working on leaving the phone alone for at least 1 hour before unlocking it and checking it. This encourages me to wake up a bit earlier and get a few things done without the phone distracting me and before other members of the household start waking up. When they do, I make a conscious effort to be present in my caregiving first and foremost to the actual humans (or dog) that are right in front of my face before devoting any minutes or energy to the virtual world.
I still consider it a lifeline. It is important to me, and necessary for me to have. Knowing that my phone is in a “safe place” at night out of my hands, detached from my retinas, but still in close proximity has helped me manage the dependency. Leaving it alone for the first hour or two of the day has also been a game changer. This hasn’t been easy. Years of habit and routine had to be undone and rewired but so far it’s been worth it.
What routines help you find balance between phone usage and real life?
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■ Elementary Educator for Equity & Cultural Responsibility
■ Collector of Small Moments & Thrifty Finds
■ Wife & Mother
■ Bay Area, CA