Dog Short-Stories As the Gateway to Our Technology-Free Bedroom

Corgi laying on a silver laptop on beige carpet

Image Source: That Cute Site (http://www.thatcutesite.com/the-worlds-most-expensive-doggy-bed.html)

One goal on my list that I’ve failed at over and over again is my goal of creating a technology-free bedroom. Over and over, my phone, phone charger, tablet, tablet charger, find their way back into the bedroom. I’m currently on my best streak (over 10 days now) of keeping. tech. out. For the next three months, one of my top areas of focus in my goals is health, and I think this is a habit that will lead to a healthier mind and body!

Reasons I Want to Make Our Bedroom Technology-Free :

  1. I read more books when I don’t have my phone in the bedroom. Those 10-15 pages add up! And whether I’m soaking in knowledge or letting reading put me to sleep, it feels good either way.
  2. I want to pay attention to my partner and pooch, and not my phone. I get to be on my phone/tablet on my commute. I’m at a computer 11+ hours per day. These minutes, and it is usually minutes, not hours, are a great time to spend more time with each other. I also always wonder what the dogs think when they’re in bed with two humans staring at these small devices. I get a little self-conscious about being on my phone or watching TV with dogs around, wondering what they’re thinking!
  3. I really want to get better quality sleep. Everyone is always so focused on that magic “8 hours” but studies have shown that light exposure from technology does affect our sleep. I’m all about efficiency, and if I could figure out how to be healthy and feel the same on less sleep, it would be magical.

Steps to Making Our Bedroom Technology Free

  1. Move chargers out of the bedroom. You can’t have your phone in the bedroom if the charger is somewhere else! At first, chargers were on a dresser across the room. Too close! Now, my charger stays in the living room. I’m still guilty of occasionally using my phone in bed anyways, and then walking out to the living room to put it away for the night when I’m done…
  2. Get an alarm clock that’s not your phone. There are so many great alarm clocks out there. If you are a deep sleeper who ever gets used to the sound of your alarm clock (that’s me) then I’d highly recommend Clocky. I don’t even turn on his wheels; the sound is perfect for a quick awakening that I never get used to!
  3. Create new bed-time traditions!  I recently finished reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg which I really enjoyed. One thing I learned in this book is that habits are a part of a cycle that is hard-wired into our brain. The cycle is Cue –> Habit –> Reward. One way you can form a new habit more easily is by replacing what you’re doing into the same ‘cue’ to ‘reward’ cycle. You’re better off if you don’t cut the habit of doing something before bed entirely, but replace the tech-portion with something else.

Think of the “Cue –> Habit –> Reward” as the way a dog learns to sit. The ‘Cue’ is your hand gesture or words. The ‘Habit’ is sitting. The ‘Reward’ is a treat, rub, or playtime. The human mind is very capable of replacing the ‘Habit’ with something else and learning it much faster than a brand new habit.

OLD: Cue (Getting Into Bed) –> Habit (reaching for phone and exploring the www) –> Reward (electronic entertainment)

NEW: Cue (Getting Into Bed) –> Habit (read dog short-stories) –> Reward (new entertainment)

New Bedtime Traditions to Replace Technology

  1. Read Short-Stories (or a few pages of a book) Out-Loud. This is what we’re doing right now, and I actually started doing this before even realizing that I was replacing the habit via the Cue –> Habit –> Reward cycle. It’s so interesting how all of this comes together! Will and I have started reading 1-2 stories from “Devoted: 38 Extraordinary Tales of Love, Loyalty, and Life With Dogs” each night. They have been just the right length at 3-5 short pages, there are pictures, and some of the stories are quite amazing! It’s been a fun thing to connect over in the evening. (Do you have any favorite books of short stories about dogs? I plan to get some more, and love recommendations)
  2. Keep a Gratitude Journal. Keep a notebook and pen at your bed-side, and at the end of each day, write down as many happy / positive things that happened that day that you can think of. You’ll be surprised how much you can come up with!
  3. Review Your Goals. This never becomes a nightly thing for me, but I occasionally reach for this for my nightly wind-down. I cross of things I’ve done, make notes in the margins on things I want to do, and circle things I want to be thinking about in the very near term. Find joy in reviewing your goals and all the possibilities of things you can do!

So, get the phone out of the bedroom. Keep your nightstand stocked with a book, journal, and your goals list. And reach for something else! I’m off to follow my own advice.

For a future meaty topic on sleep to explore. Do you allow your dog in the bed for sleep? How does that affect your sleep quality and your relationships?

Resources Mentioned:

  1. Clocky Running Alarm Clock
  2. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  3. Devoted: 38 Extraordinary Tales of Love, Loyalty, and Life With Dogs by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh