New Year’s resolution: reading and no smartphones before bed

January 7, 2013 in Exercise, Misc, Technology by pacejmiller

No iPhones

I decided my long-awaited first post of 2013 should, naturally, be a New Year’s resolution. Now before I am reminded of my abysmal New Year’s resolution record, let me assure you that I think this one is totally achievable.

When I used to work crazy hours I often wondered what it would be like if I worked a regular 9-5 job and what I would do with all that extra time. Now that I practically do work such hours (9-6, but close enough), the amount of stuff I get done after work is not actually all that different. Yes, there is the problem of a little boy who has completely changed my life, but he usually goes to bed by around 7:30pm-8pm, and even when you factor in the time it takes to wash and clean all his stuff every night, it’s not really an excuse. My goal is to sleep at 10:30pm every night, which usually means at least an hour and a half of leisure time before I close my eyes.

As is probably the case with most people, a significant part of my inability to do anything constructive during my free time stems from my smartphone and tablet usage, especially just before bed. I don’t know why these damn things are so addictive, but they are.

Recently, I have become obsessed with this smartphone app called Letterpress (following my previous obsessions with Words with Friends and Scramble with Friends). You know I don’t like to brag, but I am such a beast at this game. I remind myself of a 2010 movie title starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine about a runaway train. But my awesomeness is also a curse because I’m always staring at the damn phone wondering when my opponent(s) will make their next move.

My wife reminded me the other day that the reason why our sleep hasn’t been so great recently, apart from a sometimes sick or restless child, is because our eyes are always fixated on electronic devices shortly before bed. It’s not just the smartphones or tablets either — we often watch a TV show or movie in bed or I’m writing something on my laptop. On the odd occasion I might be playing a console video game. I used to spend some of that time exercising, and I’m still working to get myself back into that.

Most of us have probably read research which states that staring at light-emitting screens an hour before bed will likely affect your sleep as it inhibits the proper release of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your body’s natural sleep cycles. I knew about it but conveniently wedged it away in the back of my mind so I could keep dominating in the word games and keep telling myself that I’m actually working on my vocabulary so I can be a better writer.

So my New Year’s resolution is very simple: no smartphones or other electronic devices (save for emergencies) in the 30 minutes immediately prior to sleep. Instead, I will be reading. A book. Made of paper. You may have heard of them.

Can’t be that difficult, right?