One of my top rules for sleep coaching clients is no screen time at least 30 minutes before bed (ideally 2 hours). There are two reasons for this – firstly there is a higher level of brain stimulation when using screens and secondly the blue light can delay the onset of sleep.
“Compared to reading a printed book in ambient light, a half-hour exposure to iPads decreased subjective sleepiness and delayed slow-wave brain activity during sleep by about 30 minutes, as measured by EGG”. Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27448477
We all know this to be true but when it comes to implementing the rule for yourself it can be super challenging. The screen habits are deeply ingrained and hard to kick!
A simple way to get started is to set your alarm at the time you aim to turn of the screens. That helps you to remember and be strict with yourself. Secondly, write down each day what time you turned off screens and about your sleep time and sleep quality. It helps a) to be accountable and b) to see patterns emerging.
You also need to find something else to do. To help you and my sleep coaching clients, I’ve listed 50 ways to fill your evenings without screens!
Try replacing screens with one of the activities below for at least 2 weeks to see if it makes any difference.
50 things to do without screens before bed
- Read a book, a magazine or a newspaper
- Write a page in a journal or a gratitude journal – 10 things I’m grateful for
- Go for a walk
- Enjoy a tranquil bike ride
- Organise your week
- Talk to your housemate, partner, children about their day
- Enjoy time with friends
- Have a bath or a shower
- Tidy a room: your bedroom, children’s bedroom, kitchen, storage, garage, attic, basement, …
- Think about or plan a future travel or trip
- Prepare your lunch for the next day or set the table for tomorrow’s breakfast
- Bake some cookies or a cake for the office or your children
- Make yourself a cup of hot milk with honey or a herbal tea or bed time tea
- Read cook books for inspiration or try new recipes
- Draw something – even if you think you suck at drawing – or paint a still life (again you don’t need to be “creative” to paint)
- Listen to music, the radio or a podcast
- Write a letter to someone
- Meditate or do some breathing exercises
- Do yoga or stretch
- Do fitness exercises – plank, sit ups, press ups, touch your toes, exercises with a ball
- Learn to juggle, to hoola hoop, to perform magic tricks
- Train your balance and concentration slacklining (possible in a park if in the city)
- Take care of your pets
- Learn a language
- Give yourself a beauty treatment
- Give or receive a massage
- Call a relative or a friend
- Do a jigsaw puzzle
- Play cards or a board game
- Do a sudoku or a crossword (not online)
- Sew or knit a scarf, hat or jumper
- Make a list of the things you want to do tomorrow, next week, next month and next year
- Water your plants or do some light gardening: pull out weeds, prune flowers, …
- Practice a musical instrument
- Discover some new music or sing along to your favourite music
- Use the Business Model Canvas to plot your next business idea
- Tinker or repair something
- Vacuum your car
- Do some maintenance work, for example fixing your bike
- Watch birds or other animals (also possible in the city)
- Hang out the laundry or iron
- Browse the unread books on your bookshelf
- Sort your old clothes or books and find some things to give to the charity shop or to friends
- Organize or leaf through photo albums (alone or with your partner or children)
- Make your home-made cleaning products and cosmetics
- Invite your neighbours for dinner
- Create a character for a short story – draw them and/or write about them
- Try on different outfits and choose one for the next day
- Prepare your sports or swimming gear
- Prepare you & your bedroom for a restful night’s sleep – for example – turn off the lights, light a candle, diffuse essential oils, remove screens and electrical devices from your bedroom, put on your favourite pyjamas, wash your face, moisturise, brush your teeth, floss your teeth, do a couple of stretches, think back about your day, be grateful and repeat your positive affirmation (more on that later).
What has worked for you to avoid screens in the evening?
How long can you go without screens before going to bed?
Do you find you sleep better when you avoid screens before bed?
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