One of my top rules for sleep coaching clients is no screen time at least 30 minutes before bed (and 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)
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 off 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 or more of the activities below for at least 2 weeks and see the difference that it makes.
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?
Leave your comments below.