This summer I wrote a piece about my social media addiction and it’s addictive patterns. I‘m still on my journey to living a slow and mindful life without being dependent on social media and other technologies and wanted to share with you where I am now.

I‘m doing a 30-day screen-free bedroom experiment! I got the inspiration from the Slow Home Podcast where the hosts, Brooke and Ben McAlary, do month long experiments with improving their life. In August they did a screen-free bedroom experiment and reported it had a huge positive impact for them. The purpose of this experiment for me was to prevent mindless mobile usage in bed in the mornings and better quality sleep. Research show that blue light from electronic devices reduces our sleep hormone melatonin production but melatonin is crucial to get quality sleep. The experiment is very simple really, just no screens in the bedroom! Since I don’t have a TV there and rarely take my laptop to bed, for me it meant not taking my mobile phone into the bedroom.

 

I haven’t been using my phone in bed at evenings but I still used it sometimes in the mornings, especially on the weekend (main culprits being Instagram, Snapchat and Medium). What I don’t like about that is I feel my brain isn’t fully turned on so this doesn’t leave much behind and I get the feeling afterwards I had been wasting my time (as I get after mindless Internet surfing). Then hearing about the effect the screen light actually has on our sleep finally convinced me to do try this out.

Now, after exactly three weeks of the experiment, I have to say that I LOVE IT! I can’t see any reason for me to go back, but lots of reasons to continue. The main positive effects I’ve gained are following:

  1. Bye bye snoozing. A pleasant side effect of having my mobile phone, which is my alarm clock, in the living room, is that I’ve pretty much stopped snoozing! Now I have to get up to turn the alarm off. Most of the time I press snooze and go back to bed, but I’m still awake ten minutes later when it goes on again and then I just get up if I haven’t already. I’ve always had this love-hate relationship with snoozing since it is so welcoming in those moments when you are waking up, but the extra sleep with the interruptions makes me more tired than if I would just get up straight away.
  2. No mindless morning surfing. In the weekend I can read my book if I want to linger in bed, but I’ve been feeling rather want to get up and do read in the sofa or by a table with a cup of coffee. This is probably also connected with me being more awake since my alarm clock is in a different room, but I also feel there’s a mental change happening for me. I know I’ll probably be sleepy again if I read in bed, but if I get up I can start making the most of the day.
  3. Better sleep. I feel my sleep has been better. I can’t say for sure it’s related to no screens before bed, but I’m pretty sure it has an impact. Of course, this doesn’t make everything perfect and I have twice woken up tired when my new adorable cat decided to wake my up at 5 AM to get some cuddling. But I’m feeling fresh in the mornings and have more energy the whole day. For example, I’m now on day 4 in  30 days of Yoga with Adriene (also inspired by the Slow Home podcast) doing 20–30 minutes of yoga each morning.
  4. More valuable family time. My 10-year-old son has never been much into television nor had endurance for a long time in front of a computer so me and his dad haven’t really had to set boundaries on his screen time. But last winter that changed swiftly and we have been struggling with setting boundaries, keeping them and knowing what is the best thing to do. That struggle actually made me think about my computer time and if it was unhealthy for me. Which probably had a huge impact on why I started to see my social media usage as an addiction. Now we have an hour of screen-free time before he goes to bed because I want him to get good sleep and I feel less screen time is good for him. This just happened in a nice flow I didn’t think was possible. I think it’s because I’ve been very positive when explaining this to him and very clear on the why of it. So now, instead of watching Friends with him before he goes to sleep, we’ve been playing cards or colouring together. My son likes to spend most of his time now with his friends, and even though the alone time I gain from that is great, it also means that I don’t spend much time with him alone, and these relaxed evening moments give me so much happiness.
                                                    An “Ego Washer” by Biancoshock

 

But I’m not perfect and it has happened twice that I forgot about my experiment. I was at JSConf (JavaScript conference) the other day and installed Twitter on my mobile while it was ongoing. I gave a talk on the second day about the Impostor Syndrome and met a lot of new people, both from Iceland and all over the world, and everyone was using Twitter to communicate. This is btw what I love the most about Twitter, connecting with people in real time during an event. When I got home after that second day I was so mentally tired and found myself in my bed scrolling through Twitter when I suddenly remembered that I “shouldn’t” be using my phone in my bed. I didn’t feel bad or anything, I just laughed, tweeted about it, put my phone in the living room and went to bed for a nap. The other time was last weekend when I went to the Westfjords with my son. Somehow being in a different environment made me forget all about my newly adopted screen-free bedroom living. I took my phone to the bedroom during the nights and used it in bed a couple of times during the day. The funniest thing is that I didn’t realise until a few days later that I had done something I wasn’t gonna do.

Breaking old habits and introducing new ones doesn’t happen in one day. There is gonna be period of transition while you reprogram your brain so there is no need to beat yourself down if you find yourself in your old habit. That’s what I love doing a 30 experiment like this. First of all, going into it as an experiment is completely different than thinking you are gonna change something for life. It’s easier and I go into it with a curiosity and excitement to watch the effects it’s gonna have. Second of all, I think that after 30 days of something, if you really liked it, it’s gonna be very easy to just continue it.

Why not experiment with improving your life? You can always go back to your old self if you don’t like it! 🙂

(This post first appeared on Medium)

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