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No screens: How to kick the habit

Screen time in the evening stops us falling asleep and reduces the quality of our sleep. Easier said than done. Here is how to do it.

One of my top rules for sleep coaching clients is no screen time at least 30 minutes before bed (ideally 1 hour). 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 engrained and hard to kick!

A large study found that "higher electronic media consumption was strongly linked to poor overall sleep quality, including worsening bedtime resistance, sleep anxiety, and daytime sleepiness." We know that it's true, but we've got into very bad habits that are hard to break.

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 it for at least 10 days in a row to see if it makes any difference.

50 things to do without screens before bed

  1. Read a book
  2. Read a magazine
  3. Go for a walk
  4. Write a page in a journal 
  5. Write a gratitude journal - 10 things I'm grateful for
  6. Tidy your bedroom
  7. Talk to your housemate, partner, children about their day
  8. Prepare your lunch for the next day
  9. Draw something - even if you think you suck at drawing
  10. Have a bath
  11. Listen to music
  12. Listen to the radio
  13. Listen to a podcast
  14. Write a letter to someone
  15. Do yoga
  16. Stretch
  17. Do a jigsaw puzzle
  18. Read cook books for inspiration
  19. Learn to juggle
  20. Give yourself a beauty treatment
  21. Try on different outfits and choose one for the next day
  22. Have a shower
  23. Call a relative
  24. Call a friend
  25. Buy a fitness ball and use that
  26. Do fitness exercises - plank, sit ups, press ups, touch your toes (search for home workout ideas on the internet)
  27. Find some things to give to the charity shop
  28. Find a book to lend to a friend
  29. Bake some cookies for the office or your children
  30. Meditate
  31. Play a board game 
  32. Knit a scarf, hat or jumper
  33. Paint a still life (again you don't need to be "creative" to paint)
  34. Make a list of the things you want to do tomorrow, next week, next month and next year
  35. Hang out the laundry
  36. Water your plants
  37. Learn to hoola hoop
  38. Practice a musical instrument
  39. Listen to some new music
  40. Sing along to your favourite music 
  41. Do a sudoku (not online)
  42. Do a crossword (not online)
  43. Make yourself a cup of hot milk with honey
  44. Make yourself a herbal tea or bed time tea
  45. Create a character for a short story - draw them and/or write about them
  46. Use the Business Model Canvas to plot your next business idea
  47. Do some breathing exercises
  48. Give or receive a massage
  49. Browse the unread books on your bookshelf
  50. Prepare you & your bedroom for a restful night 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). 

Feedback welcome!

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?

Email me: dot@sleepability.co.uk

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