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5 No-Screen Bedtime Activities that Work

by Olly Mason

We’ve all been there. Just one night of insomnia and the rest of the day — sometimes even the week — is a game of catchup between managing mood swings and apathy. It’s a frustrating situation, yet approximately 68% of Americans struggle with some sort of sleep issue at least once a week.

Still, as smart devices and the latest TVs occupy our households more and more, many seek the refuge of television or browsing social media to help pass the time, unaware of the harmful effects of blue light. Breaking the cycle may be tough, but with the help of a few no-screen bedtime activities, benefiting of a restful night’s sleep may be easier to achieve than thought.

Here are five offscreen bedtime activities you can include to your bedtime routine. 

young woman smiles as she wraps herself in gray knitted throw

1.  Get Lost in Another World

Reading before bed is a classic remedy for restlessness, and it’s still suggested by sleep experts to this day. But why is reading a book better than watching a screen?

When looking at the screen of a TV or smart device, the brain is actually doing very little work. In fact, a lot of the experience is idle, but since blue light is constantly being emitted, the brain is caught between feeling sleepy from lack of engagement and awake from triggering light. 

On the other hand, reading a book won't expose you to blue light and requires the mind to be active. Think of it riding a bike: Moving downhill uses substantially less work than riding a bike uphill. It’s the same for the eyes and mind while scanning the words in a book.

Best of all, it doesn’t take very long for reading to have a sleepy effect on the body. On average, anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes of reading is enough to make the body feel sleepy.

young woman in white cardigan sits and reads in bed

2.  Channel Your Inner Child

When it comes to sleep tricks, it doesn’t hurt to have a variety of options. For nights where even reading is a labor, try loosening up the mind with some childhood fun with an adult coloring book. 

Take note, this no-screen activity isn’t all fun and games — there’s some real science to back it up! That’s because studies show coloring can sooth the portion of the brain that controls fear. So, if worries about next-day plans, current events, or personal problems keep you up at night, consider a no-stress coloring session to help ease the mind.

Young woman in jean jacket colors in an adult coloring book on a bed

3.  Snooze to a Soundtrack

Music can be a powerful tool when it comes to relaxing the mind and body, so it’s no surprise many experts recommend adding a playlist to the bedtime routine. There’s no wrong way to enjoy music, but in order to maximize the effect of this no-screen bed activity, follow these tips: 

  1. Darkness encourages the mind feel naturally sleepy, and it also helps to enhance other senses. Heighten your bedtime music-listening experience by using a sleep mask.
  2. Avoid exposure to screens by using wireless earbuds. Try creating a pre-bed sleep routine accompanied by music to get you in the mood for rest. With the music already playing, all you have to do is pair your audio device and slip into bed without peeping at a screen.

Young woman lying on teal and white bedding listens to music on headphones

4.  Give Yourself a Massage

A good massage shouldn’t require a whole day at the spa (though, you deserve it!). Luckily, with some know-how, you can give yourself a relaxing massage to help ease into sleep. Here are a few of our favorite bedtime massage routines.

  1. The Marma massage uses a special Eastern technique to pinpoint zones where two different types of body tissue join. This 5-minute massage featured on Woman’s World is an easy introduction into the art and a great addition to the bedtime routine.
  2. Even the best of us have days where our faces show the tell-tale signs of tiredness. This face massage from the founders of FaceLove, Heidi Frederick and Rachel Lang, can help combat the signs of weariness and get you back to looking like the regular you.
  3. Are you aware of your body’s pressure points? With a proper massage, they can be the key to feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. The team behind Healthline Medical Affairs fill you in on the 5 pressures points for sleep you should know about.   

Woman with ponytail grabs the back of her neck and massages it

5.  Keep Hands Busy, Not the Mind

Sometimes, the best way to take the mind off things is with a little preoccupation. For a more passive activity, include a tub of play dough or clay to your bedtime routine. When it’s time to settle down, remove the dough and work it between your hands. The more stimulation the better!

Additionally, adding the soothing scent of an essential oil such as lavender, sage, eucalyptus, or vanilla to the dough can help release some feel-good fragrances, making this screenless bedtime activity a mini aromatherapy session, too!

Person plays with several different colored clays

Sleep Better

The best tip for a better night’s sleep? The right mattress that suits your sleep needs. Whether it’s joint, back, or hip relief, or you’re simply looking to change mattress comfort, our mattress catalog has a comfortable mattress from a reliable brand. Shop online or in-store today!