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I removed all tech, including my TV and phone, from my bedroom over 5 years ago. My sleep has never been better.

a man sleeping on his stomach in bed with an iPhone next to him
The author, not pictured, removed all tech from his bedroom to sleep better.Yasinemir/Getty Images
  • I needed to sleep with my TV on and my phone next to me, which contributed to my insomnia.

  • I wasn't getting a great night's sleep because I always associated my bedroom with tech activities.

  • My sleep improved drastically when I removed all the tech from my bedroom.

When I had insomnia, I truly believed having the TV on in the background helped me sleep better. Sure, I'd occasionally dream I was in an old sitcom or wake up suddenly by a loud commercial, but I truly felt I needed that digital "white noise" to slow down my busy mind.

While the TV was initially seen as a sleep aid, it wasn't helping my insomnia overall. My sleep schedule was still erratic. I never knew what time I was going to fall asleep officially. Morning alarms were also met with grogginess, headaches, and existential dread.

Although my digital distractions would eventually tire my brain and knock me out, it wasn't leading to the consistent and quality REM sleep everyone needs to recharge themselves and be ready for the next day. I decided to make a drastic change.

My digital distractions were just an emergency plan

For me, technology was becoming an emergency plan for sleep. It was "helping," but only enough to achieve the bare minimum. It was about survival instead.

I falsely believed that I needed my phone at arm's length to get a good night's rest. I thought: "What if I get an important email at 3 a.m.? What if my social media post goes viral on the other side of the world while I sleep?"

Feelings of FOMO took over. I always wanted to be connected because I didn't want to miss anything that may happen. I couldn't turn my mind off anymore, and I was addicted to the easy dopamine hits. My mind was over-stimulated and over-active as I lay in bed, scrolling.

I struggled to associate my bedroom with sleep

I found that I spent too much time in my bedroom doing things other than sleeping.

I spent hours of my waking day in my bedroom, whether it be watching television, playing video games, reading on a tablet, browsing social media, checking emails, or doing late-night work on my laptop.

The problem was my sleep environment was too stimulating. It wasn't conducive to winding down and relaxing. My brain associated my bedroom with a cornucopia of different activities, so my first thought when walking in wasn't, "Time to go to bed," but, "What should I do now?"

During my lazy years, I would even eat dinner or a late-night snack while watching Netflix. There were no clear boundaries between "sleep" and other daily activities. Everything just blurred into a heavy fog of half-awake and half-asleep.

My mind never knew when it was officially time to rest. Without setting clear boundaries for myself, it was easy to rationalize, "One more click, one more episode, one more level…" Putting off sleep for another 15 minutes didn't seem like much when it was already 1 a.m., and I was at least under the sheets. But then, another couple of hours passed by.

I took out all the technology in my bedroom

Over five years ago, my bedroom underwent a complete transformation; I got rid of the TV, video games, phone, and all other digital distractions.

It's a completely minimalist approach. All I technically need is a bed, dresser, and night table. Years later, the only electronic device in my room is a small digital clock. I also have a tapestry and plant in there, too.

At first, the change was really shocking. Something felt strangely off while I lay in bed those first few nights without my phone or the TV blaring. I tossed and turned in the uncomfortable silence and started to second-guess my decision. I experienced weird "phantom vibrations," where I felt my phone send a notification despite not having it on me.

But after a challenging couple of weeks, my mind began to adapt to the new bedroom. I learned to associate it with my "sleep space" and nothing else. Over time I fell into a natural rhythm where I would instinctively fall asleep and wake up around the same time every day. I haven't used an alarm clock for years now.

Getting rid of tech in the bedroom wasn't the only thing that improved my sleep habits (exercise and diet helped, too), but I believe it was a major change that contributed to my sleep success over the years.

I certainly have no plans to bring screens or tech back into the bedroom anytime soon.

Read the original article on Business Insider