When it comes to not getting enough deep sleep at night, too much screen time with technology devices is often the culprit. While an overwhelming amount of research shows that engaging with screens right before bed wreaks havoc on our brain’s ability to produce enough melatonin, no one seems to want to take in those numbers. In today’s world, it can be hard to cut out phones, computers, and televisions even for an hour at a time, especially right before bed when you’re catching up on news articles, texting with friends, or getting that last bit of work done before turning in. Turning off technology before bed doesn’t just feel counterproductive: For the 84% of Americans who are addicted to screens, it can feel like an impossible task.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. If you’re committed to getting a better night’s sleep, take a minute to consider changing your nighttime routine, starting with the two hours right before bed. Here are a few ways to get a better night’s sleep without sacrificing your productivity and creativity.
Bring a Book to Bed
While at first it might seem like a drag to have to expend energy to read physical pages right before bed, you’ll soon see why reading an actual book is a great alternative to screen time. Getting into the habit of reading will not only reduce your stress level, it will help your body fall into a pre-sleep state of deeper relaxation. And that’s not even taking into account all the intellectual benefits.
Check Out a Podcast
For hardcore technology addicts, this one might feel like cheating. However, as long as you’re not actively engaging with your phone while listening, taking in a podcast episode or two can be an excellent way to get your body ready for sleep. There are a number of podcasts out there, like “Sleep with Me” and “Meditation Minis” that are specifically designed to lull listeners into a sleep state.
Up Your Nighttime Self Care Routine
If you’re not a nighttime shower or bath person, there are more than a few reasons why you might want to consider becoming one. Not only does a warm bath or shower increase your ability to sleep deeply each night, it can reduce stress overall and help you drift into dreamland without much struggle. If you’re someone who likes a bit of pampering with your bath or shower routine, try spending a bit of time with essential oils. You can either take them as a supplement or simply take in the smell of lavender or ylang-ylang before bed to produce calming effects.
Use Your Creativity
While taking on a huge project right before bed might not seem like the best way to get to sleep, it’s actually the perfect way to engage your mind and relax your body right before turning in. Taking a bit of time to draw, paint, organize, or simply reflect could get your body and brain better adjusted and primed for a great night’s sleep. Spending a bit of time thinking creatively could even be the key to jump-starting lucid dreaming. In general, taking on a “problem-solving” mindset before bed is a great way to prepare your brain for sleep as well as for the challenges of the morning. According to Fast Company and a UC San Diego Study, getting more REM sleep nightly is a great way to improve overall creativity and problem-solving in waking life. If you’re someone who loses sleep over issues at work or hard-to-solve problems, the key to a better work life might lie in a renewed commitment to catching up on that shut-eye.