Taming the cell phone habit

 At two this morning – rather, six minutes past – I lay awake. Outside the curtain-less bedroom window the night sky appeared almost dawn-ish. Sleep had galloped as fast and far as the horse and wagon that had surprised me by racing past our house a few hours earlier.

Not long ago I developed the habit of grabbing my cell phone when I couldn’t sleep. I read articles and blogs I’d set aside for later. I checked Facebook sometimes. I researched topics on my “I wonder” list – at least those that stuck long enough to circle the brain cells more than once. Things like:

Why does what feels like an electric current sometimes run through my big toe? Why does my cat blame me for everything? What did Jesus do in the day between his crucifixion and resurrection? Does YouTube have harmonica lessons? Does colloidal silver really turn skin blue? Where in Canada can one keep chickens in a city backyard?  

My health-wise friend Glenda chides me for that night-time reading habit. “Kathleen,” she says, “That is SO bad for you. You shouldn’t look at your phone in the dark. People have gone blind doing that.”

I usually listen to her eventually, and eventually I did. Then, knowing that it takes both listening and action to erase bad habits, I put my cell phone to sleep at night. In the far corner of our living room. When sleeplessness plagued me I did what I did before gadgets invaded my night-time peace. I prayed. Recited scripture or poetry. Planned a project in my head. Or simply remained still, listening to the night sounds, counting my blessings and recounting happy memories. When all else failed, I grabbed my hard copy Bible off the nightstand and opened to the Book of Leviticus.

A month later, when I felt the phone had learned its lesson, I let it back into the bedroom – just to see the time in the dark, since I have no glowing clock.

But last night, when I couldn’t sleep, it beckoned again. Without thinking, I reached for it and began searching. I read sermons and theological articles. I edited photos I’d barely looked at since taking and accepted one friend request.

Beside me, the Preacher noticed. “What’cha reading?”

“Did you see this little video Amanda posted?” I asked. He grunted and fell back into bed.

Today, I feel no more tired than usual. But Glenda’s right. I know I’ll pay eventually. Sleep is God’s gift of restoration to weary bodies and minds. Firing up brain cells when they’re supposed to be resting interrupts our sleep rhythms, interfering with our daytime health too. And nighttime web-surfing poses dangers even for those who surf safe sites; increasing our stress levels and making us cranky.

I just gave my phone notice. Back into the night-time corner for you, little temptation box. What I don’t know won’t hurt me – at least till morning.