Thursday, January 26, 2012
Making the bedroom a laptop free zone
The other day, I was talking to my friend Anna about our Facebook free existence this month. This lead to other topics, including our computer use in the evening and our "interesting" sleeping habits.
For a number of years, I've developed a bad habit as it relates to my evening bedtime routine: laptop use. After discovering the wonders of Netflix Instant Viewer and the opportunity to watch unlimited episodes of The Office whenever I needed a laugh, I started getting into a daily habit of watching an episode before falling asleep. What I didn't realize is that this seemingly innocent habit would turn into larger, more permanent habit, and that I'd tack on abc.com, Hulu, Facebook, and other addiction-promoting sites to my list (don't judge).
Today I did a bit of research and came across a couple helpful articles. One article on WebMD spoke about nighttime computer use, stating:
"Playing a video game or finishing up some work on computer before bed may keep you awake long after you turn the computer off. A new study shows that the bright light of a computer screen may alter the body's biological clock and suppress the natural production of melatonin that's critical to the normal sleep-wake cycle" (Source).
In a National Sleep Foundation (NSF) poll, the results showed that "63% of participants believe that their sleep needs are not being met during the course of an average week," and that "95% of the 1,508 people surveyed reported using some type of electronic device–such as a TV, computer, video game or cellphone–within an hour of bedtime at least a few nights a week" (Source).
It is clear that Anna and I are not alone with our nighttime habits, but the bottom line is that it's not healthy and we should consider changing our ways.
In further discussions about our re-entry into the Facebook world in February, and Anna and I agreed that we should talk about our overall Facebook and internet use, including when and where. We agreed that starting in February (if not sooner) we are going to ban our laptops from our bedrooms on Sunday through Thursday evenings when a good night's rest is the most essential for our work performance and overall productivity the next day. I am SO glad to have an accountability partner in this, because it's going to be very tough for me to kick this bad habit.
Anna and I both shared that we always wish we would read and journal more often, and we think that ditching the bad habit will create more time for healthier habits like these! Another activity I've also thought about doing is going on a quick, evening walk with Lucy before going to bed (another healthy replacement). Lastly, I notice that on the nights I spend too much time on my laptop before bed, I end up ditching my morning workout, which is something that I've been missing these days. I deserve to have that time for myself and my health every day.
Ultimately, we have to know ourselves the best. There are some people who function just fine on 5 hrs of sleep and fall asleep right away without issues, and sleep soundly through the night. I am NOT one of those people and never will be. I also think that it comes down to prioritizing, and being intentional about our time and planning things in advance. So, if watching The Office in the evening is still important to me, that should happen earlier in the evening outside of my bedroom, an hour or two before bedtime.
I also frequently ask myself this question: "Later in life, do I want to look back and say 'I spent years spending every hour before bed looking at a computer screen,' or 'I spent years caring for my health by reading books, journaling, and getting enough sleep'"?
I hope you'll consider joining Anna and I for our quest to develop healthier sleeping habits, if your routine is in need of this type of makeover!