One Weird Trick for Better Sleep

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Trouble sleeping? Your phone may be the key to a successful slumber. But before you go looking for the perfect app, consider phone abstinence instead. 

Generally speaking, I’m a pretty solid sleeper. It usually takes me no time at all to fall asleep (if anything, it’s a battle to stay awake), and I can mostly sleep right through the night. With that said, I do still fall prey to random attacks of insomnia – usually driven by curiosity. I’ll be in bed, mind darting every which way, and suddenly make the decision to grab my phone and look up the official Cricket rulebook so I can cross-reference against my existing knowledge of baseball. 

Other times, I’ll be awakened by my Ring notification and a shot of adrenaline as I prepare to engage with armed burglars who turn out to be deer checking out my Corvette. Try going back to sleep quickly after mentally preparing to valiantly die saving your family. 

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Then there are the random amber alerts that slice through your sleep like a hot knife, searing your ears and your soul with a screeching message about an event more than 4 hours away. 

All of these scenarios have one thing in common: they’re a byproduct of keeping my phone on my nightstand. I recently decided to start leaving my phone in another room altogether while I sleep, and here’s what I’ve seen as a result. 

Fewer Distractions = Earlier Bedtime 

I like to take a shower right before bed every night – a hygienic practice I would very much like to recommend to anyone reading this. Why bring the grit and grime of your day into your sleep sanctuary if you don’t have to? Keep your sheets a clean, welcoming oasis by rinsing off before hopping in. But let’s get back on track:

I take a shower about an hour before I go to bed. When I first decided to remove my phone from my bedroom, this seemed like an easy line of delineation: leave my phone on the bathroom vanity after my shower, and don’t touch it again until morning. 

This is where I realized just how much time I usually waste on the phone right before bed. I would find myself reaching for the nightstand over and over again with every thought that popped into my head. Without having it available, I found myself spending time actually thinking things through rather than instantly looking for the solution. Turns out, this is pretty tiring (or maybe just boring) work, and it seems to be helping me nod off sooner. In fact, I would estimate I’m dozing off at least an hour earlier than I was when my phone was at my nightstand. 

Fewer Answers = More Imagination

Now, this is a very non-scientific observation, and your mileage may vary. HOWEVER: since I’ve stopped looking at my phone at night, I’ve been having the wildest, most vivid dreams of my life – every single night

Now that I’m looking at my phone less and spending more time thinking about my questions rather than looking for instant solutions, here’s what I’ve settled on as an explanation: this return to natural, personal problem solving has unlocked some kind of dormant activity in my subconscious. I go to sleep, and my mind keeps sifting through my thoughts and experiences throughout the day, converting them into these outrageous, colorful dreams. 

More Imagination = More Motivation

Interestingly, my nighttime phone removal may be having the greatest impact on my waking hours. I’m waking up chock full of ideas – from stupid puns, to music I want to recreate from my dreams, to personal betterment decisions. In the couple of weeks since making the move, I have noticed an uptick in my productivity and motivation, and people around me have begun to notice as well.  

Is Your Phone Impacting Your Sleep Quality?

In my case, I would absolutely answer “yes.” I had no idea that it was impacting me as much as it was, but the early evidence is undeniable in my personal experience. And here’s the thing: I’m really only looking at this from a distraction perspective. Who knows what impact 5G, emanating radiation, etc. may have been playing in all this as my phone charged 3 feet from my head overnight. Maybe distraction has nothing to do with any of this, and it’s all about frequency. Who knows? 

What I do know: I’m never sleeping next to my phone again.