Here’s What I Learned from Sleeping with My Phone in Another Room for a Week

published Jan 11, 2022
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How many times have you heard the advice to not sleep with your phone in your room? It seems to be a go-to wellness hack for better sleep, and I admit, I’ve tried it a few times, but my phone always ends up right back at my nightstand. I have a habit of looking at my phone right before bed — you know, just a quick glance at Instagram that turns into 45 minutes of scrolling through beautiful homes, cute dogs, and fashion tips. Then I wake up to begin another quick scroll to see what happened while I was sleeping. All of a sudden, I’ve been awake for an hour and haven’t left my bed when I could have been up and at ’em, starting my day.

And look, I know the blue light that my phone screen emits isn’t the best for sleep, and neither is social media. Dr. Sarah M. Richey, a neurologist who specializes in sleep medicine, explains that scrolling before bed is anything but predictable. “When we scroll through social media or the news before bed, we don’t have control over the content that we may see,” Richey tells Apartment Therapy. “We may see something exciting, upsetting, worrying, or simply thought-provoking. This emotional stimulation, along with the light coming from the screen, activates our brain, making it more difficult to sleep. Instead, having a calming and predictable bedtime routine helps set us up for a good night’s sleep.”  

In pursuit of more restful sleep, and wanting to kick-start the new year with good habits, I decided once and for all to get my phone out of my bedroom.

The Rules

I decided to keep this experiment simple and not create any major boundaries with when I was on and off my phone — but instead focus on the where. The phone was not allowed in the bedroom, period. That meant no a.m. scrolling as soon as I opened my eyes in the morning, and no p.m. scrolling in bed as a way of winding down. When it was time to pack it in for the night, the phone stayed plugged in on the kitchen counter, and that’s where it stayed until it was time to use it in the morning. For the most part, this experiment was just about no phone in the bedroom. 

The Process

I won’t lie and say this experiment went off without a hitch. I started on a Monday, and on day one, I absentmindedly found myself scrolling in bed. To the surprise of my husband, I shouted at my phone, “You’re not allowed in here!” and proceeded to march myself back into the kitchen to plug in my phone and bid it adieu. What was most surprising was I didn’t even know I was doing it, and I realized my scrolling had become so second-nature, I scrolled without thinking. Yikes. Old habits die hard, and I tried to be gentle with myself as I felt the familiar urge to reach for the phone and check my email for the millionth time, right before it was time to hit the hay.

Tuesday wasn’t much better, since I woke up, got out of bed, and checked my phone in the kitchen right away. Sure, the phone was out of the bedroom, but was I really reaping the benefits if I immediately woke up and scrolled — just in the kitchen instead of in bed? I soon learned that I needed something else to replace my a.m. scroll, and from then on, I was able to set myself up for a successful and productive morning.

On Wednesday and Friday mornings, I kept a book on my nightstand and spent 15 minutes reading in bed, which was a nice way to ease into the day instead of my typical Instagram and email check-in. The book I’m currently reading is a self-help book, and reading something positive in the morning got my mindset off on the right foot. I clearly noticed feeling less anxious on days where I read instead of scrolled first thing, which felt like a big win. I also decided to stop using my phone at 9 p.m., which gave me time to relax and unwind with other things like quality time with my husband, watching a show, or reading. Plugging my phone in at 9 p.m. and setting it aside felt like a very deliberate choice, instead of bringing it into the bedroom without realizing. And much to my surprise, this ended up being the easiest change of the week. I didn’t miss my evening scroll a bit!

Thursday, I had a morning gym date with myself, and made sure I was prepped and ready to go the night before. I set out my workout gear, packed my gym bag, charged my earbuds, and had a playlist ready to go. I did this over the weekend too, and there was minimal thinking on these mornings, since I adopted a “get up and go” mentality. I did feel tempted to check in on email once I was out the door and at the gym, since I had my phone with me for music, and I did sneak a peek at my inbox on Friday. I was proud of myself, however, for keeping it short and getting back to the task at hand, which was my workout, instead of falling down an internet rabbit hole. I think the hardest part about workouts is just getting out the door and showing up at the gym, and having my phone out of the bedroom definitely helped with that. I wasn’t lying around scrolling for the first hour of my day. Instead I was able to get up and go.

The Takeaways

I thought this would be a challenging week, and it definitely was.

I realized how much I like my mornings and how much time I got back once I ditched my morning scroll. My sleep was restful and deep, but the urge to wake up and reach for my phone is still strong. I plan on keeping the experiment going, and especially during the week, I’m excited to keep reading and working out first thing before I start work.

I did miss seeing aesthetically pleasing Instagram images, though, especially on weekend mornings, when I wasn’t asking myself to be super productive. I wished for short, leisurely scrolls in bed, which I think I’ll allow myself on Saturdays and Sundays. Keeping my phone out of my bedroom was a great way to overhaul my morning and evening routines, and I’m proud of myself for seeing the experiment through for all seven days. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants some quality time away from their device!