Before I begin, I must first tell you guys that I am so happy to have hit a thousand (and two thousand) views in the last 72 hours, and your support, especially for my graduation letter, is truly inspiring. I’m fascinated in knowing that the thoughts I’m recording right now, as I type, will reach people across the planet, in unfamiliar homes, workplaces, etc. I will work hard to live up to the hype you all generously gave me.
Consider what you’re doing right now. Yeah, you’re on a cell phone or a computer and you’re reading my blog. I am very happy that you’re here; but still, look at what you’re doing: staring at a screen. How often do you gaze into your phone every day? Do you spend hours every night “going to bed” but really just lying in your bed beaming at that phone, watching your sleep cycle melt away into a Dali-like cloud of abstract timelessness? I know I’m susceptible to doing this. In fact, I’ve consistently written these blog posts in single blocks of time—always, you guessed it, in my bed at night; it’s tempting, it’s convenient, and it’s easy.
Pause. My body needs to be asleep before I finish another sentence, so I’ll finish this when I wake up.
Okay, after 11 hours of sleep I am back. Sweet, I’ve already detached myself from my aforementioned self-imposed blogging construct.
Some of you might spend 20 minutes in bed, and others of you might spending a whopping 200 minutes—I know I’ve done both pretty often. Regardless of how much time you spend on it, think about your eyes, brain, and body. Your brain’s electrical activity starts to skyrocket up when you get on your phone in bed, your neurons begin racing in correlation with your rapid thoughts, your eyes begin the painful process of adjusting to constantly changing bright lights, and your body starts to stiffen up like tree bark in a dead Russian winter. You’re embedded in a strange position on your bed, your neck is strained, your adrenal gland has already released plenty of stress hormones, and the worst part is that even when you do eventually fall asleep, the quality of it will be sub-par—but it’s all worth it ’cause you’re just catching up on your day’s “work”. The next morning’s coffee is a viable solution, right? No.
A few days pass and you get to bed at the same time as usual, but it’s a Saturday night and you don’t feel like getting on your phone. Two hours later, you’re frozen in suspended disbelief as you turn your left cheek to the clock on your desk. You haven’t been doing anything, but, for the seventh straight night, you’re awake at 1 am. You’ve been staying up later and later (and your body’s internal clock has adjusted for that), your brain isn’t naturally releasing melatonin, and too much light from all of those electronic screens has passed through your retina into your brain’s hypothalamus. These are not naturally occurring phenomena; they’re all part of a complex, artificial, and dystopian epidemic that Orwell and Huxley would’ve enjoyed writing about 100 years ago.
I have struggled with all of this electronophilia (yes, I just made that word up on the spot) for the last few years and everybody close to me knows it. I can’t fall asleep at night, I wake up tired, I’m lethargic at random points in the day, and I tend to feel like my cat, Big Brown. I just don’t like to call the struggle what it actually is because its name, “insomnia,” is a desensitized phrase that people toss around carelessly anytime they haven’t gotten sleep. Needless to say, the only thing I can blame this struggle on is my prolonged use of electronics over a gradual time period of three or four years. Especially in the summer, I’ve been falling asleep at 3 am and waking up at 1 pm. This is not okay. I spend too much time on Twitter, Instagram, IMDb, Facebook, random internet news sites, video games, etc. I’ve told myself that things will get better once the school year revs up, but, inside my 10-pound sphere of mental arbitration, I know that’s just an excuse. (I spend way too much time on all of my gadgets and stuff anyway, but specifically at night my addiction is just as bad in the school year as it is in the summer.)
I, however, am not alone, for some of you are in similar circumstances. I challenge you—as well as myself—to not drink as many sodas, not play Xbox or iPhone games past 11 or 12, put the phone up and out of reach when going to bed, and get back to the ideal lives we all strive for. The internet is one of the world’s biggest friends, but it is also sleep’s biggest enemy; needless to say, we can, with minimal effort, transcend its powers.