Many of us have a bad habit of falling asleep with our phone or computer at night. At the height of my internet addiction, I would stay up so late into the night that my body would get to a point where it couldn’t take the abuse anymore and it demanded that I sleep. It was not a very healthy habit at all. Today, I turn off my phone and computer at least 1 hour before bed almost every night. Because of this new habit I’ve adopted, I’m having some of the best sleep of my life right now. So, how did I go from being someone who would put myself with my electronics to being someone who has the self-control to turn them all off at night without hassle? This is what I will be discussing below.
Step 1: Turn your device off
Like most aspects of dealing technology addiction, this step is stupidly simple but for someone who truly has a problem, this could be a very difficult thing to do. If you find that this is an extremely hard thing for you to do, you’ve probably found yourself is some kind of trance state. I’ve discussed the techniques I’ve used in the earlier days of my addiction to escape this state of mind in my blog post How to Stop Wasting Time on the Internet in the section titled Resolving the Stopping Problem. Once you’ve escaped this trance-like state, turning off your device should be pretty easy. To add some extra layers of protection, I’ve listed some techniques you can use to help you prepare for Step 2 (Keeping your device off) below:
- Turn off your wifi and/or mobile data before turning off your device completely. This adds an extra step to accessing time wasting apps and websites in the case you find yourself turning it back on in the night
- Put your devices in a location that is as far away from your bed as possible. If there are multiple floors in your house, I highly recommend you put your devices on the floor farthest away from your bedroom
- Hide your devices from your sight altogether. You can stuff them in a closet, throw a towel over them, lock them in an actual safe, or whatever else comes to mind. The idiom “out of sight, out of mind” applies immensely to this situation.
Step 2: Keep your device off
Okay, so now that your devices are off and you’ve returned to your bed, it’s time to fall asleep. Sounds easy right? As with the last step, if you truly have a problem then even completing this step will take some work. Learning to fall asleep without your devices will take some practice. It’s probably going to be really uncomfortable and your mind will give you lots of excuses to turn them back on in the night. Most of these excuses can be boiled down to the two I’ve listed below. I’ve given some advice to help you overcome these excuses as well:
- “I feel bad. I really need to vent online to random people”: Vent your thoughts and emotions into a pen and paper journal instead
- “I really need to do/know X”: Ask yourself, “Will doing/knowing X help me accomplish some kind of goal that is essential to complete within the next 6-8 hours of my slumber?”. If the answer isn’t an undeniable YES, then it can wait until tomorrow morning. Write the task that you think you need to complete on a paper sticky note and then place that sticky note somewhere you will see it in the morning. From my experience, once morning rolls around you’ll discover that most of these tasks weren’t actually that important at all and you were just kidding yourself.
Step 3: Turn your device back on (OPTIONAL)
Okay, this step is a bit of a joke, but like all jokes, there is some truth to it too. You definitely shouldn’t be turning your device back on until morning, but often when you try this out the first few times, you’ll find yourself device in hand at some point during the night. This is very normal. No need to beat yourself up. Just refer back to Steps 1-2 as many times as you need to until you get it right. You can do it. I believe in you!
BONUS: I recently found this cool blog post about ditching modern cell phones altogether. From what I’ve read in forums around the web, switching to a “dumb-phone” is actually a very effective strategy for curbing smart phone addiction. My phone is already set to grayscale and has almost all of it’s notifications turned off and all non-essential apps deleted. I highly recommend that you all give it a read!