'I Find Myself Sneaking Off To Bed Early': How Reading Helped Me Stop Scrolling Before Bed

'A book is the only thing that’ll wrestle my phone out of my hand.'

In HuffPostUK’s 28-day scroll-free challenge, we are trying to find a better balance with social media. Sign up for our daily email featuring tips and motivation – you can start the challenge at any point.

Every time I catch myself scrolling through my phone late at night, I think of my mum telling us to not sit so close to the TV because we’d get square eyes. Fast-forward to adulthood and now instead of square, my eyes are iPhone shaped.

For the past few years, I can’t tell you the amount of time I’ve wasted scrolling through Instagram and Twitter. When I tire of one, I switch to another, and before I know it I’ve been stuck switching between the two for nearly an hour.

I’m most susceptible when I’ve just got into bed. When I’ve removed my makeup, brushed my teeth and got my glass of water nearby. When I’m all set for an early night, and then that little blue phone screen light flicks on inches in front of my face, and so it begins.

millann via Getty Images

Ironically, my nights at home spent trying to relax or have some ‘me time’ often end up on someone else’s time - scrolling through stranger’s holiday photos, looking at insta-famous dogs, reading lengthy Twitter threads. Everything and anything can pique my interest and have me hooked.

I’ve tried buying an alarm clock so I don’t keep my phone by my bed, I’ve tried putting my phone on aeroplane mode, I’ve even tried putting my social media in folders on my phone with a huge ‘NO’ to deter me. Nothing works.

The only other time I’ve experienced this incessant junkie-like longing is with reading a book: when you get so hooked on a novel you’ll find any spare moment to devour it, racing through it only to sit bereft when you reach the end and realised the journey is over.

I’ve had an on-off love affair with reading over the years. There are times when I’ll plough through a book a week, but then there are dry spells when I won’t pick one up for a month or so.

I figured if I could put all – or at least some – the effort I put into scrolling, into picking up a book, I could easily reignite my old flame and get more sleep.

So, I did what any sensible person who’d fallen out of love with reading would do and set up a book club – because if you can’t be responsible for your own reading, why not add eight other people’s to the mix? What can I say, I’m an all or nothing kind of gal.

In all seriousness, with book club, something clicked. I gathered old friends and they brought theirs, we meet once every two months and meetings tend to be half-gossip and half-book discussion (it’s all quite relaxed).

“I now find myself sneaking off to bed early so I can plough through my book...'”

What started as a bid to throw myself back into reading, has turned into a warm, supportive social circle. It’s lovely.

As for the reading: I find the deadlines of having to have a book finished by a certain date helps keeps me focussed on reading, rather than scrolling.

It’s also great to break out of your comfort zone with other people’s book recommendations. We’ve read books I’ve never heard of, books I’d never choose, and I’ve been both pleasantly surprised and non-plussed by certain choices (but that’s all part of the fun, they say).

For me, a book is the only thing that’ll wrestle my bastard phone out of my hand. Instead of consuming snippets of other people’s content, I now find myself sneaking off to bed early so I can plough through my book.