Should Our Bedrooms Be Phone-Free Zones?
According to a study done by Huffington Post, a whopping 63% of people ages 18-29 say they fall asleep with a cell phone, smartphone, or tablet near them...crazy right? Being that the average hours of sleep a person gets is only 6.8 hours total (don’t forget that it is recommended for adults to get at least 7-8 hours each night to be able to function well during the day), it is interesting to think that the two statistics could possibly be correlated. If people in general are not sleeping enough, and more than half of people ages 18-29 are falling asleep with their cell phones, it makes perfect sense: technology could be robbing people, specifically millennials, of their sleep. But what can you do to counteract this? Sure, there are plenty of different ways to get better sleep but how can you ensure you aren't on your cell phone until the wee hours of the night? Maybe you could throw your phone away in the garbage and opt to use snail mail as a form of communication (your friends wouldn’t mind, right?), or maybe you can just give up talking to anyone except your immediate family all together. Or you can be super daring and decide to plug your phone in the next room over, away from your bedroom, on silent mode, and try to sleep without it for five days as I have attempted to do. I know, I know, this sounds like a horrible idea but I promise, the process had it’s perks and here’s why: sleeping without my cell phone for five days was like a jolt that shook up my world, and it can shake up yours too if you give it a shot. During this somewhat tough process, I used a journal to keep my thoughts and feelings in tact. Below are excerpts from my journaling during the (attempted) five days of not having my phone with me when I went to sleep.
Anxiety level, on a scale of one to ten (one being no anxiety at all, ten being watching coverage of the 2016 election): Six.
Bedtime: I crawled into bed at 10:30pm however I did not fall asleep until about 11:30pm, mainly because I was watching my favorite holiday baking shows, but also because I was continuously thinking about not having my phone.
Thoughts? It was alarming how much this really preoccupied my mind. For the entire hour before I fell asleep I kept thinking, “I wonder if someone messaged me,” or, “What if someone needs me?” or the most dramatic of all, “Oh my God, what if my boyfriend dies and nobody will be able to tell me until the morning!” ....Yeah, it was intense. Eventually I shut down my thoughts and fell asleep feeling naked without my phone.
Any concerns? I feel extremely worried about not waking up on time. I am so afraid I set the alarm clock wrong and I am going to miss my classes in the morning. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t use my phone as an alarm so this is a huge change that I am not a big fan of.
Any regrets? I am angry at myself for not taking one last look at all of my favorite apps. I keep having this feeling of loneliness, as if everyone else is reading and tweeting these funny and amazing things and I am missing out.
Hours of sleep I got that night: 9.5 hours...I was shocked I had gotten such an amazing and long sleep. And to my surprise I actually woke up a half an hour earlier than when I needed to wake up. I think my body was just ready to be awake so I got up and began my day earlier than necessary, feeling surprisingly well-rested. I cannot remember the last time I woke up before my alarm went off. This was easily the best sleep I have gotten in awhile.
What happened when I woke up: I swear it felt like Christmas morning. Yes, it was that exciting to go get my phone from the other room it was charging in and see what had happened that night while I was sleeping. I woke up to 10 text messages, 2 snapchats, 4 facebook notifications and 10 emails. It’s really no wonder why it’s hard to fall asleep when the phone is actually next to me, there is so much is happening on that little device and my brain doesn’t want to miss a thing.
Anxiety level: Five. Less anxiety than the previous night but still some thoughts and worries present, the adjustment period is in full swing.
Bedtime: I went to bed at 10:30pm and actually fell asleep by midnight.
Any concerns? Since I had a pleasant night’s sleep the previous evening, no concerns at all.
Hours of sleep I got that night: 8.5 hours, which is still a pretty decent sleep in my opinion except this night my biggest fear came true: my alarm never went off. This was definitely the most annoying part of this process because without my phone I have to rely on an alarm which I set totally wrong (I forgot that A.M. and P.M. were even a thing). Luckily I had enough time to get ready for class and work that day but still I hate rushing so this was super aggravating.
What happened when I woke up? Besides frantically running around to get ready for my day, I am pleased with the amount of sleep I got last night. I am trying not to let the alarm situation bother me too much, I am trying to trust the process.
This night I broke all the rules: I came home from a really long night at work and I somehow talked myself into keeping my phone with me during the night. I told myself I “deserved it” after a long day, which is how I knew that I was completely addicted. After a long day what I really deserved was a good night’s sleep but clearly, the addiction is real and I found any excuse to keep my phone with me while I slept.
Time I Went To Bed: 1 a.m...yep, I got a terrible sleep and I sincerely blame my phone. I was up so late just scrolling through nonsense instead of resting up for the next day.
Hours of sleep I got that night: 6.5 total hours. This was the least amount I had gotten since I began this experiment.
Anxiety level: Three. Being that I am exhausted from getting virtually no sleep last night, I am actually pumped to get that phone away from me and finally relax.
Bedtime: 11:00pm, I fell asleep as soon as I hopped into bed out of pure exhaustion.
Thoughts? I recall thinking something along the lines of yaaaay, yaaaay, sleep! Finally, I can sleep!
Any concerns? Heck no, if anyone needs me I’ll be on cloud 9 sleeping blissfully without any vibrations from text messages.
Hours of sleep I got that night: 9.5 hours total with no interruption, it was a good night and truthfully, this was the first night during the entire process where I did not miss my phone once.
Anxiety level: One! Or maybe a zero. I mean, I still am a bit hesitant, which of course is only expected when I have not slept without a cell phone since fifth grade. But regardless, my anxiety level has lessened significantly since the beginning of this process.
Bedtime: 11:30pm, and similarly to last night I am so happy to have a decent sleep again.
Thoughts? Maybe I will actually keep up with this experiment after it’s over! This might actually be working...
Any concerns? Nope, again, if you need me I’ll be sound asleep in pure relaxing bliss.
Hours of sleep I got that night: 8.5 hours
The end results, why you should give it a chance, and other final thoughts:
The main thing I took away from this experiment was how insanely attached I really am to my cell phone. I realized that while I did not want to admit it, I have a deep obsession with my cell phone and feel painfully lost without it, even while I am sleeping. The technology addiction is real, prevalent, and severely affects sleeping patterns.
So, back to the original question...should your bedroom be a cell phone-free zone? In a perfect world, yes. But c’mon, I don’t expect a bunch of people who walk around with their cell phones glued to their hands to just magically sleep without their most prized possessions...after all, I could barely handle it for just five days!
While it may be asking a lot from people to completely remove their cell phones from their bedrooms, it can be an awesome idea to do something similar to this experiment that can jolt your body and mind back to reality. Anyone who feels lost when their smartphone is not next to them could seriously benefit from an experiment like this. While technology can be a helpful asset when used for the right things and you can always learn cool new things to do with your phone, it can become overwhelming when you forget that it isn't exactly a necessity for your life. In the end, it is always a good idea to unplug sometimes, especially when technology is affecting something as pertinent as your sleep. Treat yourself for once and put that phone down, your body and mind just might thank you.