They say electronics are suppose to make our lives easier, but I often question that. I have been reading articles for years about how reading from an electronic devices before you go to bed can mess with your sleep. I will admit I was a person who had trouble sleeping. I took a sleep aide for years to help me find those elusive nights of sound sleep. I am now happy to report that I have been a year without them!
At night you will find my husband and I watching TV while we are on each of our own electronic devices. We don’t even have cable TV, but still the TV is on. We call it background noise. I call it a distraction to living an authentic life.
I would argue that the electronic devices can mess with your relationships as well. I use to joke that my husband pays more attention to his electronic devices than he does to me. So we tried an experiment prompted by an article I read in Vogue last week, set aside your electronic devices 50 minutes before you go to bed and don’t pick it up for 50 minutes after you wake up.
We tried this experiment. I am not going to lie, we lasted 10 minutes. And ten minutes was generous. We couldn’t do it. We not only failed, we failed miserably.
But knowing how we failed I kept trying to figure out what can we do? Here are some guidelines that are working for us.
Don’t check your phone when you wake up in the middle of the night. I have sent some very weird messages in the middle of the night and I am embarrassed by their spelling errors and the sometimes hostile tone they take. I have a friend that told me when she gets up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, she always checks her phone. I admit, I am guilty of this too. There is nothing so important in an email I get in the middle of the night that can’t wait for morning. I do not need to see what Amazon emailed me about at 3:00AM.
Have your phone charging in another room. This really works. This is a change I need to make. I worry what if my kids call me in the middle of the night and need something? My two older boys are in college and my one son has medical issues. My oldest has been mugged in the middle on the night and needed to contact us. These are real reasons to have our phones in our bedroom. I am willing to have my phone charged in another room however have my husband keep his in our bedroom.
Turn off your notifications during the times you want to sleep. My husband has set up notifications on his phone that only calls from our kids would go through this wall of quiet in the nighttime hours. I think this is a genius option. This will allow him to receive notifications from the people that matter yet block out the outside chatter.
Limit yourself to one screen at a time. I feel like this is obvious, but it isn’t. I have really tried to turn off the background noise and focus on what I am watching. Becoming aware of what I am doing in front of a screen is what I need to be aware of. My husband is often playing a game on his phone while the TV is going. Or I am on Facebook while I am watching TV. Neither of us are dedicated to either. Make a choice on one, or better yet, unplug completely for a period of time.
Be aware of who you are with. I often find myself in front of a screen when my youngest son is home. I need to realize that when he is home, screens need to be put away. Now I have been making a habit of grabbing an actual book and reading in the living room when he comes home from his evening activities. I read with one ear open to what is going on with him and we are able to communicate in a more natural way. There will always be one more video to watch. I am not wanting to miss my last two years at home with him. I need to be present when he is home.
Wake up and go to sleep with a different attitude. If the first thing you do when you wake up is you grab your phone, you have your priorities wrong. I am pointing a big finger at me here. I should look at my husband and tell him good morning or say I love him. If he is sleeping I can whisper in his ear and not wake him. Or better yet, I saw a funny meme going around, if you want to scare someone, shout I love you in German, “ich liebe dich.” Try it once, it will be a moment neither of you forget!
If that last thing you are doing is plugging in your cell phone and rolling over to go to sleep without saying goodnight or I love you to someone, you are missing out. Even if it is a text you send right before you go to sleep, those communications matter. I had a friend with some health issues and I would often send a text before I would go to sleep with the words “sweet dreams” as the only words. When I have friends going through hard times I do the same. Knowing someone is thinking about you matters.
So this week I challenge you, and I challenge myself, put the screens down to help with your sleep and your relationships at home. I will not even talk about when you are out for dinner or meeting someone for coffee. Simply unplug and tune in and see what changes happen in your life. You may all of a sudden find blocks of time to focus on the people and things you love!
To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,
Melissa is a Productivity Consultant living in Fargo, North Dakota doing her best of living a life full of adventure. Filling a life of memories and not of things!
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