Over the past few years I have kept my cell phone next to by my bed, plugged in overnight to charge. But, it didn't just sit there dormant. I'd be fiddling with it up until I turned off the lights to go to bed. Even worse, if I woke up in the middle of the night, I'd look at it to see what crucial e-mail I was missing at 4 a.m.
I tend to wake up a lot anyhow. I have weird dreams. This week alone I've dreamed of walking a pot-bellied pig through a cemetery and pitching James Cameron a movie about a magical day camp run by Napoleon. Looking at my phone after these dreams wake me up is a sure-fire way to keep me from falling back asleep.
My girlfriend struggles with bedtime phone usage as well. While I'm reading NFL blogs, she plays Bejeweled. (She's awesome, by the way -- I've never seen such focus. A truck could drive through the room and she wouldn't even look up from a game.)
But for the past two weeks, my girlfriend and I have decided to keep our phones out of the bedroom. We both have found that we sleep better, fall asleep faster and manage to feel more rested. The experiment had ancillary benefits that I didn't even consider when we began.
For starters, we talk more. Sometimes we both get home so late from work that we make dinner, watch some TV and head straight to bed. There is no downtime for us to just talk about our lives beyond asking about each other's day. Now we find that spending this time together has made us happier.
We plan trips. Talk about what we're going to do on the weekend. Gossip about our friends. Share funny stories about our day. The little things. The details. Best of all, we laugh a lot. We're just hanging out with no distractions.
These open lines of communication and intimacy have strengthened our relationship, and the effects can be felt throughout, even in our sex life.
Ditching the phones has been great. After being at work all day looking at a computer, and then coming home to watch bad reality television, we realized that we're probably looking at screens more hours of the day than not. Taking a break from them hasn't just helped us fall asleep faster; it's slowed down our life, which is the best benefit of all.