I’ve noticed a habit that’s slowly gotten worse.. Lying on my bed around the time I should be going to sleep, but interacting with my phone for (sometimes) hours after I should have closed my eyes.. This not only leads to groggy mornings, but to grab my device as the first thing I do when I awaken.
It’s a cascade of bad habits, all stemming from the casual use, then dependence, on digital devices to provide some sort of structure. That’s the thing about structure: it’s an amalgamation of habits (both bad and good) that creates a framework for the day. It only makes sense that one bad habit begets the next, and before you know it, your entire schedule is rife with unhealthy behavior.
The end of one day is the starting of the next. It’s a cyclical process. You often hear the phrase “Tomorrow is a new day, a fresh start”.. The promise of a clean slate is appealing, but for me it starts in how you end the day before. Removing dependence on digital devices at least an hour before sleep: cutting out “screen time” (as a friend of mine coined it when referring to how her kids consume digital content) lets your body start to naturally slow down – bright lights from displays (TV’s, phones, laptops, etc) all interrupt our circadian rhythms and disrupt our bodies from falling asleep when they need to.
If you’re someone who is on a device “for work” or are having difficulty with the sudden eradication of devices so abruptly before bed, try installing flux, available free of charge for PC/Mac, Twilight for Android devices, and jail-broken iOS mobiles, all of which “warm” the color profile of your displays, letting your body get tired naturally: mimicking sunset.
I rarely watch much TV, as I haven’t had cable since 1996, so there’s not much self control needed in regards to taking my flat screen out of my bedroom, however, I do now charge my phone downstairs in the living room, and have banished my Kindle to daylight hours, eschewing the convenience for the handful of regular books that I haven’t yet read. I’m on the lookout for a decent analog alarm clock: one that’s battery powered is fine, but I’d prefer actual hands versus a digital display: if you can recommend one, leave me a comment.
I’ve also set an alarm on my phone, but it’s not to help me wake up.. (I actually only have an alarm clock as backup: 90% of the mornings, I wake up before it sounds) Instead, it’s to alert me to a permission to start using my phone again. It lets me enjoy my mornings, unfettered.. Have a walk with Lucas, a cup of tea, go through my planner.. frame the day before I see what’s in store.
It’s been a couple nights, but I’m already asleep by 11 and awake by 5:30 – a behavior I haven’t seen in about 3 or 4 years – and honestly? It’s great to be back.