Are you the kind of person who goes to bed, only to find hours later you’re still awake and all you’ve done is scroll social media? Or perhaps you stay up late on the lounge watching Netflix while watching way too many 30 second videos and swiping next, next, next…
Even if you go to bed at a decent time, your nighttime phone use is likely to still reduce the amount of sleep you get because it actually keeps you from producing enough melatonin to fall asleep!
Social media stimulates us by giving us a constant stream of information, and an engaged brain will keep you up. Waking up at night to check your DM’s can also put you at a higher risk for sleep disorders.
When you need to wake up early, you may wake up more refreshed if you put away your phone at night.
In addition to keeping you awake, social media can wear you down. After all, have you seen the posts in your community Facebook group?
Even if you’re not arguing with strangers on the Internet, there’s only so much gossip, debating, and mindless banter that one can read before it becomes unhealthy.
If you lay awake in bed for hours whether your phone is on or off, consider swapping social media for these less stimulating nighttime activities.
They’re not as exciting as catching up on Twitter gossip, but if you’re trying to sleep, that’s the point!
Some of these suggestions still involve using your phone. Whenever you’re using a phone or laptop before bed, use the blue light filter on that device.
You should also face the screen away from you whenever you can.
None of these activities involve consistently typing or reading, so you can still drastically reduce your screen time.
1 – Listen To Music
If you can’t sleep in a quiet room, listen to music before bed.
If you don’t have a radio, you can use your phone – just use wireless earbuds if you have them.
Keep the volume low and choose tracks that won’t trigger unpleasant emotions.
Alternatively, invest in a white noise machine to play soothing sounds while you drift off.
Avoid listening to e-books or podcasts before bed, since they may keep you awake longer.
Even if you wouldn’t mind falling asleep while listening to them, you’ll likely be engaged with the content while you’re still awake.
Save active listening for car rides, workouts, and your morning routine.
2 – Prep For The Morning
Do you spend too much time picking out an outfit in the morning?
Spend a few minutes each night preparing your clothes for the next day.
You can also use your nightly downtime to pack your kids’ school lunches (or your own lunch for work).
You’ll feel less rushed as you head out the door, and you can rest assured that you’re ready for the day ahead.
While these tasks are a bit stimulating, they’re quick and will leave you feeling relieved once they’re done.
Who wants to wake up early to do things you could have done the night before?
3 – Meditate
Meditation is good for the mind, body, and soul. By helping you calm down, it can also help you fall asleep easier.
If your mind often wanders, practicing mindful meditation is a healthy, beneficial alternative to browsing Twitter at midnight.
If you’ve never meditated before, look for guided meditation clips online. You can also download a mobile app to help you get started.
You don’t need to overwhelm yourself with hour-long meditations. Start with five minutes a night – after all, it’s a “practice” for a reason!
4 – Make Tomorrow’s To-Do List
Do you ever stay awake stressing about everything you need to do the next day? If so, start making to-do lists before bed.
Jot your reminders down on pen and paper if you can to reduce your blue light exposure.
If you rely on your phone’s notepad to stay organized, transfer your to-do list onto your phone in the morning – otherwise, you may wind up too focused on your phone to sleep!
Even if you can only think of 1-2 things you need to do tomorrow, write them down anyway.
Having even the slightest idea of what your day will look like is better than being completely unprepared.
If you often find yourself overwhelmed with tasks you forgot about, consider getting an organizer that fits in your purse.
5 – Take A Hot Shower
Let’s be honest: not everyone has time to shower in the morning. If you rush to get ready for work, consider showering at night.
You may fall asleep easier knowing you’re squeaky clean, and you’ll have extra time in the morning to work out, meal prep, or sleep in.
Since you won’t be rushed, you can even use a face mask or take a bubble bath – you deserve it!
If your bathroom has dimmable lights, consider using them for a more soothing shower. You’ll also reduce your light exposure this way.
While a bathroom light isn’t as bad as having a blue light in your face, why expose yourself to the extra lighting if you don’t have to?
6 – Read a Book
If you need some kind of mental stimulation before you hit the hay, consider reading books (no, not on your Kindle – that’s cheating).
Unlike reading on lit devices, reading books can actually make us sleepy.
A good read can distract us from our stressful realities, whereas a boring read can make us struggle to keep up.
Now, you finally have an excuse to read those books you bought months ago!
Instead of using a reading light, consider turning on your bedside lamp.
Dimmer lighting will help you fall asleep faster, and a bright light in your face can create a glare.
For a more calming effect, get an opaque lampshade if yours is translucent.
7 – Start A Gratitude Journal
What are you grateful for?
Take some time each night to write down something that made you smile – no matter how small it may be.
Practicing gratitude may not help you fall asleep, but it will help you end each day on a high note.
Instead of getting caught up on Facebook group arguments, focus on the good in your life. You may find yourself happier as a result.
As you jot down the things that keep you going, reflect on your day instead of your entire life.
This will help you truly appreciate each day, even when nothing spectacular happens.
It will also keep your journaling from getting too heavy right before bed.
This exercise should leave you feeling elevated, not emotional.
Don’t judge yourself for what you’re grateful for – if your lunch was the highlight of your day, there’s no shame in acknowledging that.
8 – Brain Dump
Do you have a to-do list written down? If so, forget about it for now.
Instead, take some time to write down everything that’s on your mind – both the good and bad.
This exercise is called a brain dump because you’ll be dumping out all the thoughts running through your head.
Be sure to tackle your weakest tasks (the ones you can’t seem to focus on) first.
Once you get all the junk out of your head, jot down some actionable tasks for tomorrow.
When you do this, don’t worry about how many items are on your list – just write them all down.
Once you’ve got it on paper, prioritize and add items to your to-do list if necessary.
9 – Visualize Your Goals
Visualization exercises are really powerful ways for us to help train our brain to find ways in our days to move us towards achieving our goals.
If you struggle with falling asleep at night, this exercise may help you fall asleep faster.
Before bed, close your eyes and picture yourself achieving the goals that are important to you.
What goal are you working towards at the moment? Visualize yourself achieving that goal and focus on how it feels to achieve that goal.
10 – Have A Conversation
When was the last time you had a great conversation with your spouse or with your kids?
We often allow the busyness of our days to take over and tell ourselves that we don’t have time for deep conversations, but what if we put our phones down before bed and had a chat instead?
It doesn’t even have to be a deep and meaningful conversation. Have some fun! Get creative with ‘would you rather?’ questions, work through a list of conversation starters, or even fill in a Couples Journal together.
11 – Give Yourself A Massage
We often get so busy that we forget to relax, but taking just 5-10 minutes to give yourself a mini-massage before bed can leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.
The act of giving yourself positive attention for all the things you’ve accomplished during the day is also really powerful, especially if you’re an overachiever.
Put on some relaxing music and use some of your favorite lotion or oil to rub yourself down from head to toe.
As you breathe deeply, focus on all the parts of your body that need a bit more love – your ankles, your shoulders, even your face.
Then, give yourself a scalp massage! Massage your temples, rub the back of your head, and even press your fingertips into that little spot between your nose and forehead.
12 – Write A Note To Someone You Love
We spend so much time trying to stay connected with others through social media but why not put down our phones, pick up a pen and write them a note?
Write a note to your spouse, your child, your parents or even the cashier at Starbucks.
Express yourself in writing instead of typing. As you write that note, think about what you would want to hear if that person was in front of you.
Remember to keep it short and sweet – nothing too mushy!
13 – Spend Time Outside
A lovely way to unwind before bed is to go outside and spend some time in nature.
Although being outside may seem the opposite of relaxing, the fresh air actually helps calm us down after a long day.
Even spending some time around plants can be an effective stress reliever.
Seeing living things grow and thrive can help us reconnect with our own sense of growth and progress, especially if we struggle with staying on task.
Taking a moment to step outside, gaze up at the stars, breathe in some fresh air, and even put your feet on the ground (great for grounding our energy), can really help you disconnect from your busy day and transport you to a place of relaxation.
14 – Talk To Yourself
Talking to ourselves may seem a bit weird, but it can actually be very therapeutic.
When we talk out loud to ourselves, it helps us become more mindful and take notice of what’s going on in our lives.
It can help us process things that are confusing or difficult for us as well as provide insight into problems and concerns we may be having.
Starting a conversation with yourself can help you form a stronger relationship with yourself and your feelings.
It’s especially helpful if we don’t have anyone else to speak to, whether it’s because we’re alone or we just don’t feel like our friends and family would understand.
15 – Deep Breathing Exercises
Deep breathing exercises can be a great way to relax and calm the mind.
Try taking 5 deep, slow breaths while relaxing your muscles one by one (starting with your feet and working up to your face).
Breathe in slowly through your nose and out through your mouth – repeat this process 3 times.
Deep breathing has been shown to help with sleep and relaxation.
It also helps increase our overall lung capacity and can strengthen the immune system, decrease blood pressure and even ease symptoms of asthma.
16 – Stretch
Stretching is a great way to release tension in our muscles and get rid of some stress.
You don’t have to be a contortionist or go all out – even some basic stretches can make a difference.
If you’re feeling really stressed, try doing some yoga poses like the downward facing dog, cat/cows or seated twists.
For those who aren’t into stretching it out before bed, don’t worry – there are still ways that you can stretch to help you relax!
You can stretch your fingers, your neck, even your ankles.
Small, periodic stretches like these can help release any built up tension in the muscles – all you need is a little bit of time and focus!
17 – 10 Minute Tidy
Okay, I know most of the things on this list have been more relaxing than productive, and there’s a reason for that, but sometimes a quick 10 minute tidy of your space before going to bed can leave you feeling a whole lot more calm.
A tidy room can make you feel like everything is in its place and nothing’s out of reach.
It also makes it easier to relax when we’re surrounded by clean, organized spaces that we’re familiar with and know we won’t find anything out of the ordinary once we turn out the light.
So if your space is making you feel stressed, try taking 10 minutes to tidy up before you turn in for the night – it might make all the difference.
Plus, when you wake in the morning you’ll feel so much better about the space you’re in.
Using electronics before bed isn’t healthy, and too much social media can be toxic at any hour. Instead of letting FOMO keep you up at night, swap your favorite apps for some healthier bedtime habits. Your body will thank you later!