Kicking my Late-Night Phone Habit

It’s something we all do: we say we’re going to bed, we shut off the lights, and then we stare at our phones, sending those last texts or catching up on those last articles before turning off and turning in for the night. We’re so attached to our phones, we’re reluctant to let go of the entertainment and gratification they provide for us in order to stare at the backs of our eyelids, trying to go to sleep. I’m no stranger to that: when I “go to bed”, I usually spend a half hour or more scrolling through Facebook or Tumblr or playing Pocket Camp before I actually make some effort to sleep. I realized that this is probably not good for me, in a couple of ways. First, I’m very nearsighted, and looking at that screen for so long, after looking at the screen of my laptop almost all day--it’s probably not helping things. Also, a lot of the time, using my phone can be a bit of a crutch for me to curb my anxiety: I often occupy myself with my phone so that I don’t have to think about whatever’s making me nervous about waking up the next morning, whether that’s a presentation, or work, or just the fact of waking up. So I decided to ditch the phone for a week--before bed, anyway--in order to see how things go.

The first few days were definitely weird. Just setting my phone’s alarm, putting it away, and getting into bed without a second glance, I felt like I was missing something. Or like I was missing out on something--one of my biggest worries was that someone would need to contact me and I wouldn’t see until morning. (I kept my ringer on for that reason, just in case.) And without my phone, I had to dwell on the things that were making me dread the coming day, like my first co-lead for tour guide certification, which I had one of those mornings, and the idea of which was very intimidating. But that fear only lasted a little while, and I found I was able to mentally talk myself through it, calm myself down, prepare for the coming day rather than pushing all thoughts of it away.

Though it was hard at first, as time went on, I became more and more grateful that I’d taken on this project. First of all, needless to say, my eyes hurt way less, and I felt much more well-rested in the morning. Also, I learned that laying off the stress-scrolling is a much better choice for my anxiety, too. I realized that looking at my phone before bed, instead of helping my anxiety, just forestalled it for a while, allowing it to stew and intensify underneath the surface, so that I would be that much more freaked out once I actually had to face the problem I was worried about. By kicking the phone attachment, I was able to sit (or lie, in this case) with those worries, work through them, and see that yes, I could handle whatever was coming for me in the morning. After seeing the good that putting away my phone can do, even though it’s difficult, I’m going to try to do it every night that I can.