On books and sleep

Are you a bedtime reader? Did it used to be books but now it’s your phone? Stop it. Get back to books and get better sleep, according to this article. I used to read before bed, but have become an easy and deep sleeper the over the last 10 years or so. Ms. Ninja sits up and reads still. But neither of us are supposed to look at our phones. In fact, unless the kids are still out, we put them on airplane mode to charge overnight so we’re not taking EM showers with the faucet right by our brains all night. Personally, I miss that reading time, but on the other hand I–zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

For a long time, I have known that phones interfere with sleep. Phones release shots of pleasure. As a person with ADHD, I am especially short on dopamine, and if I train my body to expect a spoonful then I’ll stay alert to receive it. When that happens in bed, I’ll get less sleep. Until recently, I chose to ignore this theory because I feared it would be proven correct and I’d wish I’d done something sooner. The longer I put off trying a no-phone regime, the more regret I would feel, which meant I procrastinated further – and so on. Such is the miracle of cognitive loops. Whoever gifted me with rationality should have enclosed a receipt, because I would happily exchange it for the ability to fly.

But this year my insomnia got so bad that I snapped. I marshalled bedside resources: alarm clock, sudoku, pens, notebooks, British Vogue, Penguin Classics too antiquated for me to feel any compulsion to text the group chat. (“Unbelievable scenes in Rochester’s attic!”) And I made one simple rule: phone goes into a kitchen drawer before bed, and does not come out until morning.

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