I’ve always had a complicated relationship with my phone. Many a night I’ve spent hours watching videos, reels, scrolling through feeds, reading comments on social media, and googling apparent need to know there and then answers.

I kid myself that I have a healthy relationship with this little piece of technology that’s never far from my side. That I don’t spend that much time on it, it does not control me! But I’d be lying. Because I don’t, I do and it does. I think I may have a phone scrolling addiction!

Subconsciously, I’m aware my absent phone scrolling before bed makes me feel shit. That it’s a little like self-harm for my mind. That the automatic draw to check multiple social media platforms and lose hours in that online world, just cannot be good – especially as I head to bed. It’s the standard settle in, do a quick scroll, only to find an hour has passed by lost in a stream of unimportant content. Once again, there I lay wishing I’d gone to bed an hour earlier than I have.

Or I wake up in the middle of the night – as I often do – and that phone is instantly in hand. Instead of a few minutes feeling restless before drifting back to sleep, I lose half hour (probably closer to an hour or more most of the time) dabbling in the online world. 

Why can’t I stop scrolling on my phone?? I know it doesn’t make me feel good afterwards. Nothing is gained from the time online. And I get more frustrated than anything that I’ve lost so much sleep! I’m utterly shattered when I wake up from lack of brain down-time, but I still do it.

The phrase ‘mindless scrolling’ is used a lot for this little issue I have

And that’s exactly what it is, mindless. It might feel in theory like I’m giving my brain a break, or that I’m filling it up with important much needed info. But in reality, I’m wiring it up with blue screen vibes and then stupidly wondering why I can’t get to bloody sleep. 

Apparently, it’s also spawn from FOMO, where you don’t want to miss anything

Yet instead of making you feel like you’re part of the party, social media normally makes people feel like everyone else is having the best time, doing fabulously, and if you’re not in that zone, well, it all feels a bit toxic and shit. Phone scrolling through those social media apps is also linked to depression and makes anxiety a hell of a lot worse … I should really take note of what I’m writing here.

But I intend too! Because I’ve had enough. I’m writing this as a ‘Dear Self’ entry. So here it is, ‘Dear Self, stop being a dick and wasting countless hours watching videos of animals doing stupid (yet hilarious) things, and do something more productive and healthy. Like actually get a decent nights sleep.’

Quite possibly, part of my phone scrolling problem is linked to being a ‘while-in-bed procrastinator

Cheers, Google. I love a Google self-diagnosis! I read an article recently describing someone who procrastinates before bed, delaying the falling asleep, and I think this is totally me.

I’m phone scrolling in part as an attempt to prolong my day, take full advantage of every evening moment I am not at work, delay the inevitable sleep before waking up to the 9-5pm in the morning. It’s to feel like I’m relaxing in my own little way with some blue screen entertainment.

‘Revenge bedtime procrastinator’ is another term for this sacrificing sleep for leisure time. It’s all about the before getting into bed time. Studies have found people experiencing high stress may reduce their sleeping hours in order to maximize this leisure and personal time and get their revenge. Interestingly, students and woman are more inclined to be revenge bedtime procrastinators. But for me, all this does is lead to insufficient sleep, which then negatively affects my mental, physical and emotional health and doesn’t actually make me feel like I’m maximizing my free time anyway. Every night I do intend to go to bed at a decent time, but I fail at it, miserably. I’ve had to find a way out of this cycle of sleep deprivation, because all of it feels really bad. So since the start of the year, I’ve made a conscious effort to do things differently.

I’m working on reducing my stress via lowering the additional working hours I put in to my day job

Studies have found that working from home (which I do) leads to extended working hours (which in my case, it does). To combat the stress from overworking and feeling like I’ve lost ‘my time’ I’ve started to make sure I utilize my lunch break, and finish no later than 30 minutes after I’m supposed too. I’ve set myself a bedtime regime too. Because whilst midnight has always felt like the best time to head to bed – making the most of my evening – it meant I often didn’t wake up when I wanted too and felt overly tired and groggy the next day.

I’ve started getting ready for sleep at 930pm. Feels weird, I’ll be honest

But I’m also not losing the evening hours. As instead of waking up far later than I’d planned, I’ve been waking up earlier at 6-630am. And my ‘while-in-bed procrastinator’ habit? I’ve switched it for a good old fashioned book. Not even a kindle. A hard copy novel, no less. Spending thirty minutes reading before I switch off the light has actually made me feel sleepy. I drift off quicker. And my mind feels nice and relaxed rather than racing with a gazillion thoughts. When I wake, I feel refreshed rather than tired. Plus getting my early morning start means I’ve been able to exercise, walk the dogs or just chill out properly before the working day begins.

I think I’ve found my leisure time balance too, because I don’t feel that I’m missing out on anything

I’m more energized throughout the day, and my new routine does feel less stressful because my life balance feels a little more in order. I’ll be honest, I’d hit a rocky patch with my mental health over the winter months. It’s something I struggle with most winters. But I think in part it’s because my bedtime scrolling had hit an all time excessive high. Even just in a couple of weeks, I’m noticing the benefits of putting my phone away before bed, and sticking to this new routine. So, Dear Self, take notes. Keep with it. You may fall back into an old habit here and there, but this feels GOOD. Don’t forget it.

Are you suffering from phone scrolling addiction? Let me know in the comments.

By Amy Roullier
By Amy Roullier

Amy is the Founder and Editor of The Authentic Optimist. She talks all things life. From the highs to the lows, to all those messy bits in-between. She is a writer, rambler, lover of carbs (her true soulmate) and she is especially passionate about dispelling myths about women in their 30s. Amy lives in Lincolnshire with her two greyhounds.

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