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What do you normally do in the few hours before going to bed? Common activities for me include watching YouTube videos, playing online games, and reading social media. In a way, these activities help me to relax and wind down, but at the same time they end up keeping me awake for longer. What these activities have in common is that they involve screens, whether it’s a phone, laptop or TV.
The problem with screen time before bed
Activities that involve screens can be very stimulating. My personal problem (and probably a problem for many) is that if I allow myself to use my phone before bed, I find it hard to stop. I know I need to go to sleep but I’ll keep on scrolling Instagram until my eyes physically won’t stay open. Or I’ll keep playing ‘just one more game’ or watching ‘just one more video’. In short, it’s addictive!
Another way that screens can keep you awake is that they emit blue light, which is linked to poor sleep as it signals your brain to wake up. Blue light is linked to a range of other health problems as well, particularly eye problems.
A very obvious solution to this is to stop using screens before bed. As mentioned before, screens can be addictive, so breaking the habit of screen time before bed can be harder than you think. Therefore it’s important to have other activities to replace it. Later in this blog post, I’ll be suggesting some relaxing screen-free activities to do before bed.
Why go screen-free before bed?
I think one of the main reasons why phones and other devices are so addictive is that they are so easy and convenient to use, even when you are sleepy. By switching to screen-free activities, you are likely to be more in tune with your natural sleep cycle and actually go to sleep when you are tired, rather than reaching for your phone for one last look at social media or one more game while you lie in bed. Screen-free activities take effort! And paradoxically, that’s what makes them good for winding down. They’ll relax you, but then you’ll actually stop them and go to bed when you get tired.
Some of the screen-free activities in this post are similar or identical to activities you could do on your phone. For example, playing physical card games or doing physical puzzles instead of doing these things on your phone. What differentiates them is that you won’t be exposed to blue light to keep you awake. Additionally, you won’t have the ‘convenience factor’ mentioned above that makes them so addictive.
You might even choose to even turn your phone and other devices off completely after a certain time so you’re not tempted to jump back on them.
So without further ado, here are 11 relaxing screen-free activities to help you wind down before going to bed.
11 Relaxing Screen-Free Activities To Do Before Bed
This is probably one of the most obvious screen-free activities you’d think of to do before bed. Admittedly, books can be addictive too, especially if you are in the middle of a good story. There have certainly been times when I’ve stayed up until the early hours of the morning reading because I just had to know what happens next! In general, though, I tend to get sleepy within a few pages. Even if you do stay up late reading, at least it’s a more wholesome activity than scrolling social media.
Related post: 12 Books That I Loved in 2020
2. Read a magazine
This is similar to reading a book, but if you tend to get sleepy fast when reading, a magazine would be a better option. This is because you can dip in and out of a magazine, whereas it’s better to read a book in longer chunks to keep it flowing, rather than having to re-read the same page again and again because you fall asleep.
3. Do puzzles
You can get plenty of puzzle apps on your phone, but to avoid screens, try investing in an old-fashioned puzzle book. You can buy them from any newsagent. Doing puzzles is a fun and relaxing activity to do before bed. I find it distracts my mind from other things and sends me off to sleep quickly.
4. Play cards
This can be a social activity but there are also card games you can play on your own. I bet you’ve played some form of solitaire or patience on your phone or computer, but have you ever played it with actual physical cards? This can be a soothing activity before bed.
5. Colouring or drawing
Colouring is well known as a relaxing activity, so dig out that colouring book to help you wind down in the evening. Alternatively, you could do some drawing, even if it’s just doodling.
6. Gentle exercise
I’m not saying go for a run before bed, although you’d probably sleep well after that! But some gentle exercise like stretching, yoga or pilates could help you to wind down.
Related post: How To Make Exercise Into A Game
7. Beauty treatments
If you are into beauty treatments like face masks, skincare, hair masks and painting your nails, these would be relaxing screen-free activities to do before bed.
8. Listen to music
Music can help you wind down, especially if it’s something soothing and relaxing. You might need to briefly use a screen to set up your music, for example, find a playlist on your phone. Alternatively, you can be ‘old school’ and use a radio, CDs or even cassette tapes if you have them (I still do)!
Journalling can take many forms, whether you analyse your day on paper, fill in a bullet journal, write a gratitude journal or simply write down some thoughts. It is, of course, possible to journal using an app on your phone or computer, but I recommend using traditional pen and paper if you want to avoid screens before bed. Not only is journaling a relaxing activity to do before bed but it can help your mind to feel more settled too.
10. Prepare for the next day
This is obviously a productive task more than a wind-down activity. However, if you pack your bag, set out your clothes for the next day and make a plan for your day, it can help your mind to feel more settled as you will be already prepared for the morning.
11. Sit and chill
How often in life do we actually sit or lie still and do nothing? It might feel weird as we are used to constant stimulation, but it could actually be so nice and refreshing to do absolutely nothing for once.
Do you do any screen-free activities before bed?
There’s nothing really wrong with having some screen time before bed, but it’s clear that there are major advantages to avoiding it. By going screen-free, you are less likely to spend hours on your electronic devices and more likely to get to sleep earlier. You’ll also minimise the health risks associated with blue light exposure. Also, this is a generalisation, but screen-free activities tend to be more wholesome and beneficial compared to the things we do on our phones and other devices.
Do you have a tendency to use screens before bed, or do you try to minimise screen time? Do you already do any of these screen-free activities, and are there any others that you would add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!