Sometimes, you can’t help yourself. It starts innocently enough and then somehow it spirals out of control. Before you know it, it’s midnight and you’re feeling bone-tired. Your eyes are sore and your brain is a deflated puddle barely registering information. Yet for some reason unknown, you continue staring at a screen through blurry eyes.
Fatigue makes your whole body feel like you’ve been dipped in wet cement and rolled across a hot road. Your retinas burn and water like they’re near fire. You’ve managed a posture so doubled over and crinkled, you’re practically a yogi master. You’ll pay for your poor posture tomorrow.
You decide that it’s definitely time to go to bed. Except… it’s so much effort to take the necessary steps to actually go to sleep. Far easier to continue scrolling until the blue light exhausts you into dreams.
1. Find your why
I’ve spent more nights like the one described above than I’d care to admit. Underpinning each of these experiences is a greasy, guilty sort of feeling. Worse, the sensible adult voice in the back of my head whispers “I told you so”.
So, wanting to ditch the late-night doomscrolls, I got into digital minimalism. As a minimalist already, it wasn’t much of a jump. Moreover, the philosophy of incorporating value-adding technology and scrapping the rest resonated with me.
It was clear that my smartphone and bed (either first thing in the morning or last thing at night) could no longer mix. The research further convinced me that saying goodnight to the blue light was the way to go.
2. Get an alarm clock
One reason that I put off charging my phone elsewhere was the alarm clock. Smartphones now have lovely built-in alarms that are nice to wake up to and convenient. Going through the effort of procuring an alarm clock seemed unnecessary. I also told myself that alarm clocks are unpleasant to wake up to and my smartphone was the sensible choice.
But what I was doing wasn’t working and it was time for a change.
I ended up with a beautiful twin-bell alarm clock. I found that inserting an elastic band around the clock’s internal motor slowed the chimes into a clear and cheery sound. Much nicer than the default frequency.
With a cute and charming alarm clock in tow, I had no more excuses to keep my phone glued to my bedside table.
3. Decide where you’re going to charge your phone
It was time to decide where to relocate my phone. In the end, I set up the charging port on one of the side tables in the lounge room. A good distance from my sleeping space and it forced me to do without it when I woke up.
Where you decide to keep your phone will depend on the layout of your home and your own preferences. You also may want it close enough that you can hear it if the phone rings. (Mine is in the next room so I can hear if an emergency contact calls.)
4. Build a buffer zone
Just as important as the where is the when. I knew that if I was going to successfully break my habit, I needed a firm “phones down” curfew and buffer zone before bed.
Personally, my phone is plugged in and untouched by 9:00pm every evening (often earlier). If you can, experts usually recommend at least 30–60 minutes of no screens before bed.
5. Curate an evening routine you love
The last piece of the puzzle was to make sure that I didn’t miss my phone in the evenings. As a voracious bookworm, I decided to make this my reading time. To make everything extra hygge, I often incorporate a warm shower and light a candle.
I also try to have softer lighting and quiet in the evenings to help my body transition into nighttime.
Goodnight, blue light
While this sounds good written down, you may have some of the same concerns that I first did. Not wanting to get an alarm, worried about late-night calls, or loving the convenience.
In the end, all I can suggest is that you try it. What I loved about this process was the low barrier to entry. You can go through the steps and see if it works for you. If it doesn’t, you can always reverse things to how they were. But I have a sneaking suspicion you’ll love it.
In the years that I’ve slept without my phone, I haven’t missed it. In fact, I look forward to better quality sleep and a half-hour of before-bed indulgence. And the alarm clock I kept putting off? I love waking up to it.
About the Author: Anja Goodhart is a professional wordsmith as well as a cat-loving and hot chocolate-drinking minimalist in pursuit of a simpler lifestyle. You can find pieces of her writing on No Sidebar.