Keep your phone out of your bedroom: That’s standard advice for good sleep hygiene, and I’ve never been able to do it. For one thing, it seems silly to go buy a standalone alarm clock when I’ve got a perfectly good one on my phone—and it’s more customizable, anyway. For another, where the heck else am I going to put it?
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Yes, I know. There are smart, sleep-conscious individuals out there who create a little charging station in their living room. Alarm clocks are cheap; you can get one for literally two dollars at IKEA. And you’re probably fooling yourself if you think that scrolling your phone all evening is “helping you wind down,” or that scrolling all morning is “helping you wake up.” I know all this. But I still can’t be bothered to plug it in anywhere else.
Fortunately, there is a solution, and it’s so simple I am embarrassed for all the sleep hack gurus who have never figured it out. You just put your phone out of reach of the bed.
There are two things that you accomplish by keeping your phone away from your bed, and both can be handled without actually moving it from the room. (Not to mention that some of us don’t have an extra room. What if you live in a studio apartment? What if you are staying in a hotel?)
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The first is removing the temptation to spend time on your phone just before you sleep. The light from the screen sends signals to your brain that it’s not sleep time yet (yes, even if you use night mode) and the distraction of getting into fights on the internet, or whatever you’re doing on there, keeps your brain active when you should be thinking sleepy thoughts.
Thing is, if you’re determined to doomscroll, you can do that just as well on the couch as in your bed. So if you want to be sure you don’t have your phone literally in your bed, all you have to do is leave your phone charger just out of reach—on the dresser across your bedroom, let’s say.
The other reason relates to what happens in the morning. I actually do have a separate alarm clock, one of those sunrise numbers that brightens the lights over half an hour or so, before eventually playing a soft melody overlaid with bird calls.
That’s just the warmup, though. I hit snooze on that, and a few minutes later my real alarm rings. If your phone is on that dresser across the room, you still have to get up and onto your feet to go turn it off.
Recently, we rearranged some things in our house, and the only good place to charge my phone is now my nightstand. I’d been having trouble waking up on time, but then the other day it hit me: I could plug my phone in, and then lay it down on the floor on the other side of my nightstand. My arm can’t reach through furniture, so I have to get up to turn it off. And what do you know, I’m waking up on time again.