When the creators of Bagby invited me to try their Phone-Free Bedroom Challenge and commit to seven days without bringing my phone into my room at night, I have to be honest, I was more than a bit nervous. But I said yes. Just like going on my social media detox, I knew that where there was resistance, there was an opportunity for growth and positive change.
As a speaker and coach devoted to helping others find their own tech balance, I'd seen the reports about how looking at your phone at night could negatively impact your sleep. So I simply used the "Night Shift" function on my phone. And yes, I'd read a terrifying article about how using your phone in the dark could lead to — wait for it — TEMPORARY BLINDNESS. And still didn't change my behavior. I even had a physical therapist tell me that my habit of watching Netflix on my phone at night was doing a real number on my neck and he begged me to stop. Instead of curbing my Netflix in bed habit, I tried to figure out a way to recreate this kid's brilliant idea:
So I wasn't kidding about the Grand Canyon-sized resistance I had. But I didn't realize it was resistance. I had what I thought was a valid, airtight reason why I needed my phone within arms reach at all times: AN EMERGENCY. That dreaded 4am call from a loved one or [insert super-scary reason] I would need to call someone in the middle of the night, that was my resistance in disguise. But wanting to do Bagby's challenge was greater than my resistance, so I finally told myself the truth: if my phone rang at 4am, I could simply walk 10 steps to get my phone.
Okay so a little about Bagby: It's simple. It's a handmade bag, with a strong hook that sticks to any wall without peeling off your paint. And it has a slot for your charger to go through. Now you're saying, "That's it?" That's it. It's not a low-tech solution, it's a no-tech solution.
Last year, I tried sleeping with my phone outside of my bedroom after reading about sleep enthusiast Arianna Huffington's nightly routine. I lasted one night. So how'd I do on Bagby's Phone-Free Bedroom Challenge?
I'm proud to stay I lasted the full week — and have no plans to go back to "sleeping" with my phone. Here's what I noticed over the course of the seven days:
- I fell asleep within minutes, without fail — even on days I had caffeine in the afternoon. The first night I got into bed and laid there looking at my ceiling thinking, "Now what?" I was so used to being stimulated, looking at my phone until I passed out from exhaustion. I tried picking up a book, got two sentences in and passed out. As the week went on, I no longer had a "Now what?" moment, I just knew the second I got into bed, sleep would hit almost immediately.
- I actually got out of bed in the morning. As I've mentioned before, I consider mornings to be a magical time of day, which is why I stay off of social media until well after I've had my coffee. But tech addiction is insidious. Prior to this challenge, I still would lay in bed and check emails, news or even watch a show in the morning. During the challenge, I had to get up to shut off my alarm, but there was no hitting the snooze because I was already vertical! Some mornings I even woke up before my alarm — which never happens. (There is another Bagby version that comes with an old school no-tech alarm)
- Okay, so it was a little scary at first, but mainly eye-opening. The biggest change for me was in my middle-of-the-night reflex to grab my phone like a security blanket. For the first few nights, I would wake up startled from a nightmare and go to reach for my phone to soothe myself back to sleep. Without a phone to grab, I would have a moment of panic and then realized I was fine, and would roll over and fall back asleep instead of getting sucked into something on my phone — or worse seeing the time and counting how many precious hours of sleep I had left. On about the third night I figured out the culprit: my a/c unit in my bedroom was set to a timer and I was waking up once it shut off from the lack of white noise. So I purchased a pack of earplugs and, wouldn't you know it, no more middle of the night panic and no phone necessary.
So what changed? Why did I make it a full week with Bagby, but not on my own? I feel making the decision to have a "home" for your phone at night helps create a new habit, just as putting a shoe rack by your front door would for those who want a "shoes-off" home. A phone "home" doesn't have to be a bag, just like you don't have to have a meditation pillow or stool to have a meditation practice. It's the sheer fact that having a pillow or stool made specifically for meditation creates ritual; it's symbolic of your choice to get serious about it. The benefit of Bagby is that it saves you the time and effort of trying to come up with your own "home" that's the right size, sturdy enough and a hook that won't ruin your wall or door. And it helps make the statement to yourself and others that this is something you're serious about.
Now that I have a ritual that helps create a tech boundary for me before bed, I want to explore other ways to create physical tech boundaries in other areas of my home and life. A way to put my phone away before a meeting, a dinner, a party. If you have a challenge you'd like to me try, let me know in the comments. And if you'd like to know more about Bagby, and learn about their incredible backstory head over to their Indigogo (and even preorder your own Bagby!) here.
*FULL DISCLOSURE: I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.*