Ah, cell phones. It’s always amazing to me that something I didn’t have for the first half of my life now causes me to turn the car around if I forget it. At the beginning of the new year, two of my goals were to be less attached to my phone and to read more actual books (as opposed to my beloved audiobooks). I decided to take one action that has positively impacted both of those goals: leaving my phone downstairs when I go to bed at night.
My (Former) Constant Companion
For years, I’ve kept my phone on my nightstand. I used it as my alarm clock, a nightlight if needed, and a constant connection to the outside world. Most mornings, I would turn off my alarm and spend the first few minutes of my day scrolling through missed texts, email, and social media posts. I did a similar pass-through before bed. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with this habit, I realized I was spending the very beginning and very end of each day checking in with my phone. MY PHONE?!
So I bought an alarm clock, which I’ve never done in my life. This was probably the trickiest part of this transition. To be fair, I was kind of picky. I wanted a digital clock, which is both easier for reading in sleep confusion and also avoids the annoying “tick tock” of an old-fashioned clock. It needed to have no-low light, as I didn’t want a bright glow casting across my room while I was trying to sleep. And I wanted it to be cute. I settled on this model, which has worked out well so far! I’m still keeping my eye out for something better looking and more user-friendly, though.
A New Normal Brings Freedom
It’s been almost two months since I moved my phone downstairs for bedtime, and I am loving it! The most important change I’ve discovered is better sleep. Studies show that the blue light emitted from phones and other mobile devices suppresses the production melatonin in our bodies. I’ve known this for a while, but the allure of my phone right there, ready to serve up funny memes or thought-provoking articles, was too strong most nights. So that blue light lit up on my face, even while I tried to settle my mind and body down for sleep.
I’ve come to realize that, even if the blue light idea is a myth, my mind and spirit don’t slow down when I’m consuming little tidbits here and there on my phone. Just like my eyes and fingers are flying across the screen, so is my mind, moving in all directions. Smiling at a cute baby, reading about the latest car seat recall, laughing at a joke from a friend, tearing up at a sad story. This flood of information and emotions doesn’t allow me to properly prepare for sleep.
I have a stack of books on my nightstand that until now, were oftentimes ignored. It’s no secret that I love audiobooks, but there is just something special about turning the pages of a book, taking in each word. This new habit has renewed my love for the paper book, and I’ve already read more paper books than all of last year.
Less Device Dependency
Leaving my phone downstairs each night has reduced my dependency on it. It is no longer the first thing I check in the morning and the last thing I read at night. Instead, I spend a few moments in prayer and thinking of the day ahead, without my phone adding to my sense of urgency. At night, I read a book or linger in conversation with my husband. These aren’t revolutionary thoughts, but what a better way to spend the beginning and end of my days!
What about you? Where do you keep your phone at night? And do you have an alarm clock recommendation for me?