Are You Sleeping with Your Phone? My Personal Experience With Sleep Deprivation

Sleeping with the phone“Are you sleeping with your phone?” This sounds like something a parent would say to their teenage child, texting away at midnight. But it’s more widespread than that. A full 50% of Americans sleep with their phones in close proximity. The vast majority of Americans (70-80%) check their phones immediately after waking up. More and more people are reporting that their phone is “controlling” them: their schedule and behavior is determined by the notifications on their phone. Social media can become a death spiral, too. Our addiction to our phones is keeping us from going to bed.

I’m an entrepreneur. I’m constantly busy; there’s always something to attend to in a startup. When I try to enjoy some time at peace, my phone rings with yet another notification. There’s no time left to relax. I have people working for me all over the world; the various time zones often have me awake well past midnight. My daily schedule is always ambitious: it has to be for a startup. But jam-packing my day means there is always something left to be done. I’m having to unblock my team all the time, and I’m perpetually stressed about things. I find myself working until I fall asleep, then forcing myself to wake up a few hours later, feeling deprived, like a zombie. I wish I could be more disciplined, but I’m constantly burdened by my work and its associated stress. Often, sugar and caffeine–stimulants–are the only things getting me through my day. For me, this turned into a feedback loop: my stress drained me of all my energy, which led to caffeine intake, which led to additional grogginess, sleeplessness, and stress.

It’s had awful effects on me. I’ve gained more than 20 pounds since I started Helpsy. I don’t feel like I’m working at peak productivity as much. I’m often very irritable. I’ve had to deal with chronic pain and stress disorders sapping me of my energy. Often, I don’t feel like me anymore. I just feel drained, like I have nothing left of me. I do feel like a zombie, just going through the motions of life without actually feeling anything. Except pain and stress. And all this is in no small part due to my phone.

Back when I was a night-shift nurse, things were better! People often perceive night-shift work as damaging to sleep schedules. But the strictly scheduled nature of my job led me to meticulously plan out my own regimen. I worked with some of the most critical patients in the nation, so it was of utmost importance to me to arrive at work mentally alert and prepared. I planned my day to make sure I was feeling fresh and ready for my job. And it worked! I consistently got my 8 hours of sleep a day. Those were, sleep and stress-wise, the healthiest days of my life. Now, with my job more scattered, it’s much more difficult to maintain that discipline.

I’m trying my best to make amends. I keep my phone out of my bedroom at all times. When I wake up in the morning, I try to spend some time outdoors, whether it be in the garden, or taking a walk. I’ve tried to reduce my caffeine consumption. I’ve learned to ignore my phone at times, so it doesn’t control me and perpetually lead me back to work and stress. But breaking the feedback loop is easier said than done. I’m taking it one step at a time.

Do you struggle with sleeplessness? What kinds of challenges do you face with maintaining a healthy sleep schedule? I totally sympathize with everyone’s struggles. I know it can be a challenge. Feel free to contact me at sangeeta@helpsyhealth.com. We’ve compiled tips, recommendations, and therapies to combat insomnia and other sleep-related disorders on our website. Helpsy can help with managing this! These are things that have helped me and other people. Together, let’s take back control of our sleep!

 

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