I have a confession to make: I do a lot of social media surfing in bed. Particularly right before falling asleep and when waking up.
For the past couple of weeks I’ve practiced restraining myself from social media surfing when in bed. I’m embarrassed to say that it’s been pretty hard. Just lying there at night, trying to quiet my thoughts and go to sleep, I feel the tug of the phone on the nightstand. And when I wake up, it takes so much willpower to not automatically reach for the phone and head to Facebook or Instagram.
I’ve been thinking about why it’s such an absorbing activity. I think it’s because the social media platforms are designed to keep you hooked into the endless scroll. The algorithms are built do keep feeding you stuff that they know that you care about — funny memes, cute videos, enraging headlines, tantalizing images. It’s a constant drip feed of dopamine to your brain.
There are lots of reasons why this is emotionally and physically unhealthy. One obvious thing is that it cuts into your sleep time. Not only does it take an extra half-hour to an hour from your sleep time (or more), it also is designed to stimulate your pleasure centers just when you should be calming yourself down. So it can take longer to actually fall asleep.
Sleep experts recommend not viewing any glowing screens an hour before bedtime to help you get to sleep faster and to sleep sounder.
But I’m more concerned with waking up and going straight to social media. I realize that what this does is that immediately assaults your still-waking brain with a deluge of other people’s stuff. You are getting tiny snippets of info about what other people are doing, thinking, and feeling. Plus lots of random noise. All of that goes straight into your brain before you are even really able to process any of it.
Several times I have had to physically throw the phone away before I could get out of bed. Which is a bad sign.
Now that I’ve acknowledged the problem, I have been looking for alternatives. Various sites and experts recommend alternative morning routines:
- Making breakfast
What I have found helpful is to review what my plans are for the day, how I’m feeling about that, and coming up with intentions of what I want to accomplish. E.g. “Today at work I have a meeting with my supervisor, a new video that I’m editing, and a department stand-up. And tonight I’m going for a walk with a friend. I feel anxiety about meeting with my boss because I’m worried that I’m not advancing in my career goals. My intention for the day is to bring honesty and kindness to every interaction.”
Then I get out of bed and do my morning ablutions.
It’s going pretty well so far. I have better days and some relapses. Finding an intention to carry into the morning is not always easy or obvious. But it has been good practice.
Meanwhile at night I have been practicing reciting to myself aloud the things I am thankful for, right at that moment. And if I am feeling the need for some kind of activity, I will play a few minutes of a podcast, which typically knocks me right out.
This all a work-in-progress. But I’m glad that I’m doing small things to break my phone addiction and live a more intentional and centered life.