- Christine Kopaczewski
- Most nights before I fall asleep, I scroll through Instagram and watch TV on my phone.
- That routine became a recipe for stress and anxiety – so for one week, I stopped using my phone completely before I went to bed.
- I noticed some dramatic changes in that short time, from an increased attention span to more relaxing sleep.
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Bedtime for me usually means curling up around 10:30 p.m. with my husband and pup, scrolling through Instagram, watching an episode of “Veep” or two, and then futzing around on my phone for hours until I inevitably drop it on my face or floor and go to sleep for good.
My husband falls asleep at the drop of the hat, mostly because he has to be in work an hour and a half before me. So, while he peacefully slumbers, I hide the light from my phone (like a 10-year-old kid reading “Harry Potter” with a flashlight) and settle in for several episodes of “Golden Girls.” Those gals just get me.
Sounds great, right? It is, until it’s 2 a.m. and I’m still wide awake, anxious about how tired I’m going to feel tomorrow. Then I wake up just as tired as I anticipated.
I knew it was time to make a change.
So for one week, I decided to ditch my smartphone before bed. In that week, I found I slept better, my attention span increased, and I woke up readier than ever to take on the morning.
Here are my four biggest takeaways from my week without using my phone before bed.
I’ve never slept better
Everybody knows that it’s scientifically proven screen time can mess with your sleep.
Yet we all ignore that advice anyway.
I too assumed it was simply the crusade of parents trying to keep their kids from playing games into the wee hours of the morning. But I’ll tell you what – my first phone-free night was incredible.
I hit the hay and didn’t move an inch until my alarm went off at 7 a.m. The last time I slept this well I was probably in diapers.
As the week progressed, so did my sleeping habits. I naturally rose earlier, giving myself time to walk the dog, actually do what I intended to do with my hair and eat breakfast sitting at my table rather than on the go. Is this adulting?
My attention span improved
I couldn’t cut screen time back completely. My husband and I still caught up with our favorite shows before bed.
But I discovered just how distracting my phone was to my TV watching when I went without it. I realized how many smaller plotlines I had missed entirely, most likely due to my divided social media and TV watching attention.
The stress and frustration vanished from my morning routine
- Kaewmanee jiangsihui/Shutterstock
Instead of accidentally clicking on a work email that came through at 9 p.m. sending me into a stress spiral, I let my day go.
I didn’t replay frustrating moments or let my doubts and fears of the next day creep into my nighttime routine. I also didn’t wake up and immediately reach for my iPhone either. I left it tucked into the bedside table where I’d left it the night before.
The result? I got ready more efficiently, I didn’t let workday stress or my jam-packed schedule psych me out before I even stepped out the door. And if I’m being honest, I didn’t read any depressing news about the state of the world today. I blissfully went about the start of my day, feeling well rested, content and ready to tackle my workload.
And I had meaningful moments that my smartphone had taken away
- Milan Ilic Photographer/Shutterstock
Without my phone in hand, distracting me until I feel asleep, I instead held conversations with my husband.
We recapped our days, planned future trips, laughed and reminisced. I played with my dog and let the wave of relaxation his puppy snuggles bring me.
I’ve always used my phone as a placeholder to fill the dead space when I’m not making conversation or doing something productive. But in doing so, I was actually eliminating the time and space for meaningful conversations or making plans, or even having a moment of peace and quiet.