Wisdom//

Creative Ways to Unplug and Recharge Before Bed

Try these screen-free rituals to help you unwind before your head hits the pillow.

Bbernard/ Shutterstock
Bbernard/ Shutterstock

Research tells us that unplugging from our devices each day can boost our productivity and our mood, as well as improve our sleep –– which is why it’s so important to find creative, screen-free ways to unwind before our heads hit the pillow. It’s a topic that we talk all about in Thrive’s first book Your Time to Thrive, and it’s time we arm ourselves with the tools that help us unwind so we can get the sleep we need and deserve.

We asked our Thrive community to share with us the creative ways they unplug and recharge before bed. Which of these rituals will you try?

Play a family board game

“My son and I love to play the board game BattleShip! It’s a nighttime ritual we’ve started together, and it’s a fun way to unplug. We laugh, tell stories about the day, and it’s always fun to see what side my husband wants to play on when he joins in. It’s a great way to stay off screens and connect as a family before bed.”

—Lisa Pezik, business strategist and content expert, Toronto, Ontario

Establish a tech cutoff time

“After suffering from chronic insomnia and burnout a few years ago, my sleep routine is now a non-negotiable. I used to check emails right up until I went to sleep, which left me feeling anxious and restless during the night. I now turn off technology at least an hour before bed and cherish this time of disconnection, slowing down and returning to myself. This small step has had a transformative impact on my sleep, which in turn has rippled into all areas of my life.”

—Charlotte Swire, wellness practitioner, Manchester, UK

Read a book you love

“My favorite way to unplug before bed is by reading a book. Once I pick up my book, my phone goes away for the night and I have only the lamp by my bed on.  The beauty of reading a book for me is that it allows me to turn my mind off and solely focus on the story I am reading.  Reading is my escape.  Some nights I make it through more pages than others before I feel ready to fall asleep but no matter what, reading relaxes me so I am able to have a great night’s sleep and take on the next day fully recharged.”

—Kristine Locker, founder of Locker, Los Angeles, CA 

Keep your phone in a different room

“I try to switch off my phone an hour before bed and leave it in another room entirely. I first talk to my mom or brother if I have time, then I journal for a bit, do some deep breathing meditation exercises, read a few pages of a novel, and reflect on my day before falling asleep.”

—Anitha Balaraj, executive coach, Chennai, India

Listen to a meditative podcast

“I spend 20 minutes or so on my shakti mat just before going to sleep. I find that relaxing my muscles also relaxes my mind, and helps me unplug. I’ll also try to spend some time relaxing with a podcast. Meditative Story is a favorite of mine.”

—Andrea, strategic advisor, Herts, UK

Do some gentle yoga poses

“I unplug and recharge before bed by lighting a few candles in my bedroom, turning the lights off, and doing relaxing yoga poses. I regularly include Plow Pose —Halasana — which is the pose of gently guiding your straight legs over your head with your toes landing on the mat behind you head.  This pose releases neck, shoulder, back, hamstring, and calf tension from the day. It always helps to improve my sleep.”

—Nina Frusztajer, MD, MS, life, nutrition and wellness coach, Boston, MA 

Light a scented candle

“I like to light a candle to signal the end of the day. It’s a small gesture that speaks to my sense of sight and smell, and includes a mini ceremony as I light the candle and place it in the bedroom as I start to unwind for the night. It’s a great way to transition into my nighttime routine and end the day, with the bonus of a nice scent to fall asleep to once it’s burned out.”

—Marta Rzeszowska Chavent, management and change consultant, France

Take a mindful break and immerse yourself in a “Meditative Story” here.

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