50 Things To Do In The Evening Without Screens

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

  1. Read a book, a magazine or a newspaper

  2. Write a page in a journal or a gratitude journal – 10 things I’m grateful for

  3. Go for a walk

  4. Enjoy a tranquil bike ride

  5. Organise your week

  6. Talk to your housemate, partner, children about their day

  7. Enjoy time with friends

  8. Have a bath or a shower

  9. Tidy a room: your bedroom, children’s bedroom, kitchen, storage, garage, attic, basement, …

  10. Think about or plan a future travel or trip

  11. Prepare your lunch for the next day or set the table for tomorrow’s breakfast

  12. Bake some cookies or a cake for the office or your children

  13. Make yourself a cup of hot milk with honey or a herbal tea or bed time tea

  14. Read cook books for inspiration or try new recipes

  15. 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)

  16. Listen to music, the radio or a podcast

  17. Write a letter to someone

  18. Meditate or do some breathing exercises

  19. Do yoga or stretch

  20. Do fitness exercises – plank, sit ups, press ups, touch your toes, exercises with a ball

  21. Learn to juggle, to hoola hoop, to perform magic tricks

  22. Train your balance and concentration slacklining (possible in a park if in the city)

  23. Take care of your pets

  24. Learn a language

  25. Give yourself a beauty treatment

  26. Give or receive a massage

  27. Call a relative or a friend

  28. Do a jigsaw puzzle

  29. Play cards or a board game

  30. Do a sudoku or a crossword (not online)

  31. Sew or knit a scarf, hat or jumper

  32. Make a list of the things you want to do tomorrow, next week, next month and next year

  33. Water your plants or do some light gardening: pull out weeds, prune flowers, …

  34. Practice a musical instrument

  35. Discover some new music or sing along to your favourite music

  36. Use the Business Model Canvas to plot your next business idea

  37. Tinker or repair something

  38. Vacuum your car

  39. Do some maintenance work, for example fixing your bike

  40. Watch birds or other animals (also possible in the city)

  41. Hang out the laundry or iron

  42. Browse the unread books on your bookshelf

  43. Sort your old clothes or books and find some things to give to the charity shop or to friends

  44. Organize or leaf through photo albums (alone or with your partner or children)

  45. Make your home-made cleaning products and cosmetics

  46. Invite your neighbours for dinner

  47. Create a character for a short story – draw them and/or write about them

  48. Try on different outfits and choose one for the next day

  49. Prepare your sports or swimming gear

  50. 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).

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?

Leave your comments below.

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