Facebook Distraction Leads to Action

Part of the reason I don’t sleep well is that I have a tendency to pick up my phone to check something–tomorrow’s weather, blog comments, whatever–and then get distracted by something else. Most often it’s Facebook’s video feature. I’ll tap it and see some video of bloopers from Seinfeld, or a Graham Norton interview. After that, I just keep scrolling. Videos of trucks getting stuck in underpasses. Videos of kids pranking their parents. Some bloopers from The Office. A video of Rainn Wilson grilling Billie Eilish on Office trivia. Twice in the last week, I’ve found myself scrolling for more than two hours doing this. (Once, until 3 am!) It is absurd, and I finally took action to prevent this from happening in the future.

I ordered an alarm clock (this one, if you are interested) for my nightstand. My idea was that from now on, I was going to leave my phone plugged in on my desk in the office. If I wanted to know what time it was, I could look at the alarm clock. If I needed an alarm to wake me (I almost never do) I have one.

my new alarm clock on my nightstand

I tried this for the first time on Monday night. It took a little planning. That’s because I often use my phone to listen to an audio book before I go to sleep. I didn’t want the phone in my room because of the distractions, but I still wanted to listen to my audio book. What I did, therefore, was download the audio book to my Kindle Oasis. I don’t mind having the Kindle on my nightstand. There are no distractions there except for the thousand or so books I have. At least, there are no silly video distractions. I could lay in bed listening to my book, and when I was ready to go to sleep, set the book aside.

A couple of times I woke, and was tempted to reach for my phone to see what time it was, and maybe check to see if there were any new blog comments, or emails. But the phone wasn’t there, and that delighted me. I’d just have to wait until morning.

One drawback to this is that I often follow along on my Kindle when listening to an audio book–especially a nonfiction book. I thought I could do that on my Kindle Oasis, but apparently, it is either-or. I can listen, but can’t follow along. Or I can read, but I can’t listen. What I did then, was when I came to a passage I wanted to highlight, I’d pause the audio, switch to reading mode, highlight, and then switch back to audio. It’s not elegant, but it works.

As a precaution, I bought two of these alarm clocks. Sometimes, if it is too hot in our room, and if the Littlest Miss crawls into our bed in the middle of the night, I will go downstairs to the guest room to sleep. It is about 12 degrees cooler down there, and that doesn’t count the body heat that the Littlest Miss can put off. In that past, I’d take my phone with me and use the move as an opportunity to take a quick look at email–which would lead inevitably to videos of people falling into swimming pools. Now, have the same alarm clock in the guest room, and my phone stays in my office.

I seem to recall trying this once before, years ago. It wasn’t particularly successful then, seeing as how I’ve bringing my phone into my room at night for as long as I can remember now. So it will be interesting to see how well I can make this work in the long run. The other thing will be to see if my sleep improves at all because of this. I think that will take some time before I can make a call one way or the other. Stay tuned.

P.S.: Hopefully, you didn’t wake up in the middle of the night and pick up your phone to read this post. I’d hate to be the one responsible for keeping anyone else awake.

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6 comments

  1. I have to leave my phone outside the bedroom because I just don’t have the will-power not to scroll mindlessly until the early hours. The only electronic device in there is my e-reader. I’ll still read until the early hours sometimes, but it doesn’t feel like time wasted.

    1. Jamie, I faltered last night, had my phone with me after 2 nights without it–and slept poorly because of it. Not having it within reach makes a big difference, although I only have 3 real data points to demonstrate that so far.

  2. Oh I know this all to well but actually got around it when reading physical books again. That took a while and I can now enjoy my kindle again. EspecIally to be able to read with lights out. Having my wife a three months old son next in bed pretty much stopped reading physical books. But yes, I had times where it took me hours to put my phone away, also because of silly videos. Horrible things. It got even worse when this behavior crept into the day and eventually needed me so ban all social media from my phone.

    And the listening and reading issue on the kindle. I hear you. I was so thrilled when the audiobook feature was introduced on the kindle oasis and it was the first thing i wanted to try out on my daily commute. It was just sad. The kindle app does it fine, why not try to make a even user experience. And back than I still worked at Amazon and knew the team structures there and therefore had my answer to that question.

    But many thanks for the Tipp with the kindle and audiobooks. Honestly I never thought about it and it was the only reason why I am still taking the phone to bed.
    Finally something useful again out of the digital abyss called internet.
    Thanks Jamie

    1. One downside I found to the listening via my Kindle: I ran into some problems with how it synced my place with my phone the next day. Might have been me, but it was unsettling. Also, I think I found an alternative that allows me to read on my Kindle and listen to the audio without the need for my phone. I have the audiobook played on Alexa, and then follow along on my Kindle Oasis. Problem solved.

  3. Jamie, after my family (every single one down to the 15 year old) got diagnosed with sleep apnea, I have to ask… have you had a sleep study? That might be one reason why you would wake in the first place.

    1. Juliette, this is something my doctor said may be the next step. What I explained to her, however, is that it isn’t the waking up that’s is the problem. The real problem is falling asleep. Once asleep, I generally stay asleep. The most frequent reason I wake up in the middle of the night these days is because I’m approaching 50 and can rarely make it through the night without heading to the bathroom at least once. Ten years ago, I never had to do that! Falling asleep is another story, and once I get frustrated, after tossing and turning for an hour or so, I end up deciding I’ll just kill time with my phone–which is the worst thing I can do, I know, but in the midst of my frustration, that’s what I do. Thus, leaving my phone in my office so that I can’t mess with it.

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