It’s been thirty days since I embarked upon the Screen Free Bedroom experiment and took my computer, iPad, and iPhone out of my bedroom. There have been several times when I’ve regretted not having my phone, namely when I’ve gotten text message at night after I went to bed or early in the morning before I’ve gotten out of bed. Generally, I’ve let the late night texts go without getting up to check my phone, even though I’ve been very curious about what they might be. When I’ve received early morning texts, I’ve gotten out of my nice warm bed, stuck my feet in my slippers and tiptoed shivering to the living room to see what’s what. There’s no logical reason for the library to text me at 6:30 AM to let me know my books have arrived, but yet that’s when they let me know. Other times it’s been family members and I’ve been happy to endure the chilly January weather.
Speaking of the weather, it bothered me at first that I didn’t know the temperature or the windchill before I headed outside to see what the chickens were up to and to take Hannah for a walkabout. Then I realized it didn’t really matter – it’s January in Michigan and it’s cold. Knowing the actual temperature or windchill is irrelevant – I am still going to wear all the clothes I can. If I go out and the weather is warmish – what a delightful surprise!
The main reason I decided to do this experiment was to see if my sleeping pattern and quality of sleep would improve, and while I would like to say there’s been no difference, sadly, that’s not the case. For many, many years I’ve been able to fall asleep within a few moments of deciding I want to go to sleep. Many people have told me that they are jealous of this ability, but it’s one that I had to cultivate over time. Going to bed used to consist of worrying about things that had occurred during the day, things I needed to do, things that I feared, things that I wanted, things I was planning to say to people, really lots and lots of things. Somewhere I heard or read that instead of worrying about the same things over and over non-stop, I should determine to worry for just ten minutes. This seemed logical since, after all, I did worry about the same things day after day and the same thoughts swirled constantly through my mind. After some practice, I was able to limit my worrying to ten minutes and over a time, it seemed silly to even worry for ten minutes, because as Matthew says in his gospel, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” The answer is no, so why do it?
Where I struggle, however, is with staying asleep. If I wake up really early, it’s difficult to fall back asleep, which is why I typically reach for my iPad and start the daily ritual of checking my email, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn if I’m wondering what my former colleagues are up to, the news, playing a game of Scrabble or Free Cell, or reading an eBook. Flitting from app to app would fill the hour or two (or sometimes three) of time before it was time to officially start the day.
Without that slim device within my reach, I’ve been able to sleep longer and even when I woke up early, was able to fall back asleep about fifty percent of the time. My normal six hours of sleep has increased to seven, and that’s after just one month. The other weird thing I noticed once I borrowed my Mom’s old wind up clock was that I’m now able to sense what time it is rather than just using the digital display on my iPad. Initially I had no idea how long I had been reading and would get out of bed multiple times to see what time it was.
The other thing I’ve noticed is that I feel calmer. While flitting from app to app was very entertaining, I think it had a detrimental affect on my brain. I’d get out of bed with a million things on my mind, feeling like I had tons of stuff to do and that there wasn’t going to be time to do it all. It’s as if I willingly gave control of my day to someone else and now I’ve decided to take it back.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I have read so many books this month, about twenty-six so far. Since I’ve been wanting to have more time to read, this has been a huge bonus. It also seems like I’m able to remember more of what I’ve read, likely because I’m not trying to get through it so I can move on to something else on my iPad.
So where have I landed with this experiment? It seems that the benefits have outweighed the inconveniences so I’m going to keep going, at least for another sixty days. Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to get to the elusive eight hours of sleep that we are said to require. Hopefully the library will be okay with me checking out eight books a week for the next couple of months . . .
How about you? Do you keep your phone, tablet, computer, or TV in your room? Do you think it affects how well you sleep? Do you think it impacts any other area in your life? If you’ve done a similar experiment, please share in the comments or on Facebook.