You know that moment when you get home from a long day of work, and the first thing that you do is reach for your smartphone. You might even go as far as to say that it’s the best feeling in the world. But what if we told you there was an even better way to relax after a long day? It’s called “unplugging,” and we’re here to tell you more about it.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to how to manage your screen use. What works for one family doesn’t necessarily work for another, so be sure to set boundaries that are right for you and your family. If you want to start implementing these changes, I suggest setting a limit on the amount of time you spend using your phone at night (or day). You can also set limits by location or device type—for example, only allow yourself access in the kitchen or living room with Wi-Fi off between certain hours of the day or week; restrict yourself from using your laptop while at home; give yourself time away from any screens while eating dinner together as a family; etc.
Bring a book to bed instead of your phone.
When you’re finished with that last chapter, close the book and set it aside—it’s time to go to bed. If you’re like most people, your phone has already found its way into your hand. But instead of swiping through social media or watching Netflix before bed, try reading a book instead. If you don’t have a book handy (or even if you do), there are plenty of free audiobooks available through services like Audible and Librivox.
Reading is an excellent way to unwind at the end of a busy day and can help promote better sleep quality by distracting from worries or stressors during evening hours. It also provides an opportunity for self-reflection: when was the last time I felt truly connected to other people? What did I enjoy about my day? How can I improve tomorrow?
If you’re concerned about losing track of time while getting lost in another world on paper (or audio), consider setting an alarm so that this becomes part of your nightly routine—before long, reading will become just as much of a habit as checking Twitter after dinner!
Opt for the old-fashioned alarm clock.
If you can’t live without a digital clock, there are still options to choose from. You could get a physical alarm clock with a snooze button on it, or an electric one that doesn’t need to be plugged into the wall. You could also get an app for your phone or tablet that works as an alarm clock replacement—and then set up IFTTT recipes so that when the time comes and you press snooze on your phone, it will turn off all of your other devices at home (or in another room).
Some people even like having two alarms: one for waking up and one for waking up early enough to do yoga before work. If this sounds appealing to you, try turning off all electronics 30 minutes before bedtime every night so they won’t distract you while trying to fall asleep; then put them away entirely after getting out of bed in the morning.*
Declutter your screen.
If you have too many apps open, your smartphone will become a distraction. You’re more likely to be tempted by the notifications and social media posts that pop up on your lock screen, as well as by the endless stream of new emails coming in. Close some of those apps or reduce the number of emails you get from each service. Do you really need both email accounts? Can you turn off email notifications altogether until later in the day?
Similarly, don’t leave too many browser tabs open—especially if they’re all about work-related topics or things that can’t wait until morning (and probably shouldn’t anyway). If an app’s not relevant right now—like a news reader or social media app—close it out so it won’t distract you while trying to relax at night!
Charge your phone in another room.
Charge your phone in another room.
If you’re like most people, the first thing you do when you wake up is check your phone. If this is the case for you, try charging it in another room so that it doesn’t distract or tempt you while trying to fall asleep. This way, if an emergency alert or text comes through while lying in bed, the inconvenience of having to get up and walk over there will help keep your mind on desired thoughts rather than worrying about what’s going on outside of sleep time and whether or not getting up will cause them to disappear altogether
Switch to night mode.
There’s a setting on your phone that can help you sleep better at night, avoid eye strain and reduce screen addiction. It’s called “night mode,” and it’s easy to set up.
Night mode is a setting that adjusts the color of your screen to reduce the amount of blue light it emits. Blue light is emitted by our phones, laptops and other devices when we’re using them in dark conditions or at night—and it can disrupt our sleep patterns by suppressing melatonin production (a hormone that tells us when we’re tired). If you’re trying to change up how you use social media before bedtime, consider turning on Night Mode so you aren’t exposed to as much blue light as possible during those hours.
Give yourself a nightly massage.
Research shows that a good rubdown can help you relax, sleep better, relieve stress and pain, lower your blood pressure, and lower your cholesterol. If you’re looking for some skin-to-skin contact but don’t have anyone to give you one (or if the thought of touching another person is too much), then pick up an electronic massager from Amazon such as this one from Brookstone. The device does all the work for you—allowing you to enjoy your handiwork without having to worry about accidentally scratching up those elbows at bedtime.
If you’re having a hard time tearing yourself away from your smartphone at night, here’s a few tips. Create boundaries. Bring a book to bed instead of your phone. Opt for the old-fashioned alarm clock. Declutter your screen by turning off push notifications and other distractions before bedtime. Charge your phone in another room, or even outside of the house if possible (if it doesn’t get too cold!). Switch to night mode on your phone so that all those bright lights don’t keep you up at night; dimming them can help as well! Finally, give yourself a nightly massage with lavender essential oil—it feels great and smells beautiful!