Finding virtual balance

Headshot of BedTimes Managing Editor Beth English
Beth English
Managing Editor

In each issue of BedTimes, I’m usually struck by the number of articles that apply to my work life and sometimes my home life, too.


This month, there’s much to learn, such as how to use the principles of improv to increase open-mindedness and flexibility at work, why having pets in the bedroom isn’t such a bad idea, and how to motivate yourself to get things done by bundling an unpleasant task with something you enjoy. 

But the article that stood out to me the most this month is about putting down our screens once in a while.  Screens are everywhere—phones, tablets, laptops, televisions—even watches. In the morning, I wake up to an alarm on my smartphone. During the day, I’m glued to my laptop. In the evening, I enjoy puzzles or play games on my tablet. And that’s not to mention all the other moments when I’m texting or looking at Facebook while waiting in line at the grocery store.

Let’s face it: All of these devices are useful and fun. My children cannot fathom a time when you couldn’t just ask Siri or Google the answer to a question. Or when phones were tethered to the wall and sometimes people couldn’t reach you the moment they wanted you.

But, it seems, all these screens come with a cost. Some research has found extreme screen usage can restructure or shrink the frontal lobe of the brain. Too much screen time also can lead to weight gain, vision problems, posture problems, trouble sleeping and a decrease in attention span. The key, as with most things, is balance.

For some time now, I’ve been working on weaning myself away from some of my dependence on devices. I’ve moved back to a paper calendar, although I still maintain my Google calendar for convenience on the go. And while I will read a book on a tablet or e-reader, I much prefer to hold an actual print copy in my hands. The same with magazines. The experience is different somehow, more immersive and enjoyable. (I know a lot of you probably agree since you’re most likely reading this in the print edition of BedTimes!)

Lately, I’ve been reading books aloud to my 11-year-old daughter in the hopes of getting us both off our screens and prepared for bed. It’s a new ritual we both enjoy.

There are some handy tips in our magazine’s story that I know I should implement, such as avoiding screens two hours before bed—it’s such a temptation to pick up my phone after I’ve finished reading to my daughter—and taking technology breaks during the day.

In this season of thankfulness, I’m going to unplug when I can and appreciate what’s really around me—face-to-face conversations with family and friends, the soft fur of my cats, the beauty of autumn, the sounds of my children’s voices.

It’s my hope that you will benefit from so many of the articles in this magazine. Whether it’s learning the latest about latex or gaining knowledge about sleep or finding practices that keep you on track at work, there’s sure to be something in here for you. Happy reading!