My life became immeasurably better when I stopped keeping my phone by my bed

My life became immeasurably(i(m)ˈmeZH(ə)rəblē) better when I stopped keeping my phone by my bed

When I couldn’t sleep, I would turn to my mobile for a portal(ˈpôrdl) into another world. But there were definite(ˈdef(ə)nət) downsides to scanning Instagram in the early hours

By Jack Sommers

When I was a kid, I thought that monsters came out of the dark. Turns out, they actually come out of the light. Like you, I run my life on the supercomputer in my pocket. At night I would place it under the pillow(ˈpilō) and struggle to put it out of mind, its bright(brīt) screen a portal to other worlds.

Sure, most of Twitter is bile(bīl), but social media suits my exhibitionist(exˌbiSHəˈnist) spirit; I want to be front and centre(center) of whatever conversations are happening. As a journalist(ˈjərn(ə)ləst), I am meant to be. When I said I wanted to get my phone out of my bedroom, a colleague half-jokingly asked : “What if something happens?”

So I read when I should have slept. I read funny takes on the latest meme(mēm). I read takedowns of Donald Trump’s latest outburst(ˈoutˌbərst). I read people I thought I respected making excuses(ikˈskyo͞oz) for cruelty(ˈkro͞o(ə)ltē) as casually(ˈkaZHo͞oəlē) as cruelty seems to be creeping(krēp) into public life. I read sombre(ˈsämbər) updates on fresh(freSH) tragedies(ˈtrajədē). I did not see the link between bingeing(binj) on horror(ˈhär-,ˈhôrər) and not sleeping.

Your 30s are hard, with increasing(inˈkrēs) responsibilities. Everyone else deals with it, why can’t you? These thoughts whirred((h)wər) round my brain as I stared up at the ceiling(ˈsēliNG), sensing my heart rate(rāt) rising the more I wondered why I was still awake. When deep breathing didn’t work, I would turn to the phone under my pillow. No new emails, hardly any new tweets except from Americans. So I’d go on Instagram, where I felt sad as I followed others living their best lives without me.

My first attempts to sleep better meant keeping the phone close. I downloaded an app of soothing(ˈso͞oT͟HiNG) noises(noiz), listened to a crackling(ˈkraklən) fire through headphones and, when this didn’t work, turned it to full volume(ˈvälyəm), which your phone warns can damage hearing. It makes as much sense as deciding that, because a campfire(ˈkampˌfī(ə)r) isn’t warm enough, you should put your face on it.