This past weekend, I decided to take a trip to the middle of nowhere (said middle of nowhere being Athens, Vermont.) As I drove up a narrow winding dirt path, I could feel all of the outside world melting away. All I could see was foliage and rocks, and all I could hear was the sound of my GPS guiding the way. After an eternity, I managed to find my friends' cabin, nestled within the trees. I pulled in, took a quick look at my iPhone, and then got sidetracked by the sight of my friends coming out to greet me. We chatted for a bit about the ride up, and I went back to my car to grab my phone. And then I heard the words that struck fear and dread into my heart:
"Your phone won't work out here. We don't get any service."
What? An entire weekend without phone access?
I couldn't imagine getting by without being connected for a whole weekend. What if a patient needed me? What if someone had big news, news that I would now be the last to know? What if...what if...the possibilities were endless.
And then I decided to let it go. It was Labor Day weekend, and no patients had scheduled. No one close to me was sick, on the verge of going into labor, or in need of bail bond money. Just breathe, I told myself. You can do this. Once upon a time, not so long ago, having a cell phone wasn't even an option...
And so I spent a weekend completely devoid of technology. And it was so peaceful. When my friends and I talked, we actually looked at each other, not down at our phones. We played board games. We caught ourselves up on all the new things in our lives. We were focused. And we went to bed so early.
At first I wondered how I would ever get to sleep at 10:30 pm. I'm a night owl, not usually in bed before midnight. I use technology to wind down, so generally I'll watch some TV, or play on my iPad for an hour or so after I get home from work. Even once I'm in bed, I'll roll over to check my phone and sometimes get sucked into the abyss of Facebook updates or long involved text messages. But here, in this cabin, there wasn't a television, no internet, no phone service. Without the distraction of all that stimulation, I fell right to sleep. When I woke up, I realized that I had slept straight through the night. It was as if my sleeping mind knew that there was nothing to wake up for, and so it let itself settle into a deeper layer of rest.
I'm usually able to get a decent night's rest, but keeping the technology out of my life for the night truly brought me to a whole new realm of good, solid sleep. I never noticed how often I float up from sleep to semi-waking, until I experienced a night without interruption. So for all of you out there suffering from unsatisfying sleep, try unplugging everything in your bedroom except for your alarm clock, and see if that makes a difference. It made a huge difference for me.