Is social media effecting your sleep?
I love going to the gym and I go every day. If there were eight days in a week, that would be awesome because I could go to the gym an extra day! I don’t do FaceBook; I don’t have an account and I don’t have friends I can’t hug.
What do these two things have to do with each other?
One evening recently I used Penny’s FaceBook account to look at what my gym had posted on their FaceBook page. I watched the videos, read about who’s doing what, found myself clicking on other gym members’ profiles till I felt like I was lost in an a complicated tunnel system. And that night I had a shocking sleep. I love sleep, and I absolutely do NOT take it for granted that I am an excellent sleeper! Truly, I feel blessed. So you bet that ended my very brief relationship with FaceBook.
Then I started to wonder if FaceBook has a similar effect on others. And sure enough, a quick google search later that day confirmed this, providing lots of explanations. But the reason I had a shocking nights sleep was not mentioned. By nature, people compare, contrast, measure, and judge. And that’s what I did – in my sleep! “I could be/should be lifting as much weight as she is.” “She’s doing it, why can’t I?” “What do they know about that I don’t?” “I’m going to get it right tomorrow!” Anxiety that is definitely not conducive to restful sleep.
Then I started thinking about parents who have a child who struggles, and started to wonder if any of this applies to them; whether they worry about things like, “What are other people doing to address Autism?” “What don’t I know that others know?” “Look how well her son is doing; I need to be doing that program, then my son will do better too.” “My son’s challenges are greater, so I need to spend a greater time on FaceBook to find the answer.” “If I’m not on FaceBook, I’ll miss something important – and I’m sure it’s the thing that will help.” I wondered, do these anxiety provoking thoughts contribute to parents not sleeping well? I asked parents during their next sessions with us about their experience and came to the conclusion that yes, the anxiety and resultant bad sleep that I experienced is similarly experienced by many parents.
Spending less time on FaceBook could mean you have more time to spend with your child.
Your child then learns that he is worth spending time with just as he is, which is pretty important for self esteem. And, you model that playing and interacting together are important, which is important for developing social skills. Spending less time on FaceBook could mean that you get your work done more efficiently and hence will have more time and energy to spend doing things that nurture you; and hence you model for your child that taking care of ourselves is important. When we spend lots of time comparing our situation to others’ situations, we don’t see, accept, and even appreciate things for how they are; instead we see what we think we’d rather have. On the other hand, the more time you spend with your child, the more opportunity you have to see, appreciate, and enjoy the beauty and gifts your child has to offer – because every child has these – as do you.
Judging FaceBook as good or bad, right or wrong, is not the issue. Clearly I am using FaceBook right now to communicate with all of you reading this. It can be a way to share, a way to connect, a way to create community. The issue is whether we are conscious of when and how much time we spend on it, what our motivation is, and the effects it has on our lives and on our family’s lives.
Here is an email I received from a mum who made a commitment to herself to limit her time on FaceBook:
“I have to share, what an amazing morning I have had. I decided not to check Facebook till 2 PM and wow how much free time I had! Jai voluntarily joined me in sitting out in the backyard instead of playing on his iPad. We watched the amazing colours in the cloudy sky as the sun rose. Jai even noticed the birds chirping and we played a game of labelling bird calls. So we had “happy” singing birds, “hungry” birds and “grumpy” birds! I then took him out for a little stroll across the neighbourhood holding hands walking completely relaxed looking at more birds and flowers and of course the fire hydrants! Came home and made breakfast expecting Jai to get his iPad but he preferred to play with his toys! Even had breakfast playing with toys! Happily went to school, singing along to Dean Martin’s Mambo Italiano.”
A few weeks later at her next review, this mum reported that reduced screen time has resulted in: “more time for myself, being more organised, getting things done, the house is cleaner, and meals cooked without much extra effort.”
When we think that what we have, who we are, what we know, is not enough, we frantically look for solutions “out there” to fix what is wrong. We are happier when we believe that who we are right now and what we have is enough. When we believe this, we can of course – and will – still look for new solutions and new opportunities; but from a positive, unconditionally loving place of creating new possibilities for ourselves and our children.
Pollyanna-like as it might sound, when you don’t need to find the “right” answer, the perfect next thing will drop into your lap. When we need to find answers because things are not right as they are, we are in stress mode. When we are stressed, we tend to get tunnel vision; meaning that we are not open to all of the possible solutions or supports because we are focused on finding the “right” thing. And this becomes a vicious cycle, because if we only see a small bit of what is out there, we just keep shining that limited beam of perspective more and more frantically. When we see all the beautiful things that are happening right here, right now, we get out of stress mode, our perspective broadens, and we might very likely find that the next possible step is not what we thought it would be.
Mary E. Robson © 2017