Experience less stress, sleep more deeply and improve your relationship in 2016 with one, simple act? It IS possible, I swear. Ready?
Ban your smartphone from your bedroom.
Believe me, it will change your life. You’ll be more present, have a little more thinking space, and (if you’re anything like me at least) turn off your light earlier, and get to sleep more quickly once you do.
I recently saw this on Pinterest and couldn’t believe how much I recognised myself from a year ago:
I would often sit on my bed and scroll through literally hundreds of photos on Instagram, first my own friends’ timeline, then clicking tags, then the whole of strangers timelines. 10.30 would come and go, and I’d be still scrolling. Smoothies, sunsets, babies, cat memes. Then I’d suddenly snap out of the reverie, turn my phone onto silent, switch out the light and… lie awake for an hour or so, tossing and turning. Something had to change.
Your smartphone emits light that is skewed towards the blue end of the spectrum. You know what else is blue? Morning time! Staring at a screen before bedtime actually suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that is vital for the regulation of our sleep-wake cycles. So, as well as overstimulating our brains by scrolling through all of the internet, we’re sending physiological signals that it’s not really worth going to sleep when our heads hit the pillow, as the sun is coming up anyway.
For Lent last year, both mum and I gave up charging our phones in our bedrooms. Now, every evening, I plug my phone into its charger in the study, turn it on to airplane mode, and forget it even exists for the night. I read a novel in bed before having a chat with my fiance and turning out the light. If I half-wake in the night, I look at the time on my alarm clock and don’t get pulled right back into the real world by the sight of my phone screen. At some point in the morning, between meditating and leaving the house, I turn off airplane mode and choose to look at my phone, on my schedule. I can’t believe how much more space it gives me to think about what’s actually in front of me, and how much more time I feel I have.
I love photographer Eric Pickersgill’s series, in which he removed the screens from his subjects’ domestic photos – they seemed so true of life in the twenty-first century. How often do we sit, or lie, ignoring our loved ones while liking and commenting to people we’ve never even met? Or worse, that incessant scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll of the newsfeed or timeline – not even interacting with anyone else but not paying attention to our own lives. Don’t mistake this for an attack on technology – I love social media, and get a lot of positive things from my life online. But it needs to have its place – and that’s not under the covers. Make this your simple, no-effort resolution for 2016 and come back and tell us how your life has changed next year.
Do you use your phone in bed? Are you making any resolutions for 2016?