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I stopped using my phone as an alarm clock: Here’s what happened.

i stopped using my phone as an alarm clock

Using your phone as an alarm clock is like your morning caffeine addiction— it’s a no-brainer because it’s convenient and everybody does it. But I’ve come to find it has some major minuses, which is why for 2 weeks I’ve been plugging my phone in elsewhere and using an old-school alarm clock. Here’s what my very unscientific (yet eye-opening) experiment has uncovered:

I fell asleep faster.

Doing that last Pinterest scroll or firing off that last work response before bed messes with your psyche, not to mention your melatonin levels which gradually increase to help you nod off (unless, of course, you’re staring at a bright blue glowing screen, which tells your body HEY! STAY AWAKE!).  Just two hours of screen exposure before bed has been shown to lower melatonin levels by 22%, and studies have linked late-night screen watching to elevated risk of obesity, diabetes, and even breast cancer. Yikes. Keeping the phone away from my bedside table eliminated the temptation to check in with Twitter or Two Dots before bed, and I did notice a profound ability to fall asleep faster.

I slept better.

Staying asleep is even harder for me than falling asleep, and I often wake up in the middle of the night and succumb to the urge to grab my phone to write down the to-dos and thoughts running through my head… and then check Instagram… and then read a tweet or two… check email. Pretty soon I’m panicked because I’ve been up for two hours and sleep is nowhere in sight. It was tough at first (I nearly ran down the hall to get my phone at 2AM a couple of times), but eventually, I found myself able to go back to sleep faster when I didn’t have a 24-hour entertainment system, office and shopping mall next to my head. And here’s what I know for sure: When I have a crummy night’s sleep, I am less likely to work out or eat well the next day. This might be reason enough for me to kick the habit for good.

I woke up nicer.

The alarm clock you see in the picture is the one that I used to conduct my experiment. It’s the Albergo from Tivoli Audio, and while it’s got a sizeable footprint on my night table, when you hear how great it sounds, you’ll happily give up some table real estate. It certainly shows up my phone and its one dinky speaker, and I can even use it to wirelessly stream my phone’s music via Bluetooth, so it doubles as a handsome bedroom stereo. The alarm is AM/FM radio only, so I set it to my local NPR station, and found it a lot less jarring than the ringtone + vibration combo that used to start my day. According to my kids, waking up to the dulcet tones of newscasters made me a little less cranky in the AM.

I had less headaches.

According to the World Health Organization, cell phones produce electromagnetic fields (EMF), and have been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (an agency of the WHO) as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” The reported symptoms of Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) include headache, fatigue, stress and sleep disturbances, among others. No conclusive studies have been backed by the medical community just yet, but for what it’s worth, I usually get a headache or two per week and I didn’t have one during my two-week trial. Not one. I’m not going to start wearing a tinfoil hat or anything, but for me, that’s a big deal.

I talked to my husband more.

My husband and I lead busy lives. To play Words with Friends while my best friend is lying next to me in bed seems frivolous, yet we still do it, night after night. The online world is a tempting mistress, but I decided that looking my husband in the eye and connecting, free of devices to lure us away from one another, was a priority I wanted to give more than lip service to. So I put my phone in its place… which was out of the bedroom…  and got to some pillow talk IRL. Marital bonding ensued.

All in all, I think I’m going to try to keep up this habit. I’m sure not all of these benefits are directly correlated, but it’s just too much good stuff to ignore.

What’s your morning routine like? Do you swear by the phone or an alarm clock to get you out of bed? Tell me in the comments!

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