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Could a soul-filling bedtime routine change your life?

It was midnight. My husband (the night owl between the two of us) heard my feet on our stairs and, before I even came into his sight, said—

“Can’t sleep, huh?”

“Nope,” I replied in frustration, heading (of course) for the cereal cabinet.

This exchange had become way too common over the last year, and although I knew several factors could be at play, I had my eye on one particular habit that was likely affecting my sleep.

Before-bed screen use.  

But dangit, I didn’t want to give it up! It’s more convenient to read using my Kindle app… It’s so delicious to watch a show in bed… It’s really, really hard to resist that final check-in on Instagram.

But as I’m sure you know, the research on screen time before bed is not good. Blue light suppresses the body’s melatonin production and pushes back our circadian rhythms. Where blue light can be useful in shifting our cycles toward more wakefulness when we need it (like first thing in the morning), it has a negative effect when we want to go to sleep.

Blue light has a dark side – Harvard Health Publishing
Why is blue light before bedtime bad for sleep? Scientific American

But I didn’t really even need the research to tell me that; I could feel that my technology was often given my mind a second wind—right when I wanted it least. When I wanted rest… my mind suddenly wanted to replay every exchange with every human I’d ever met! Great timing, right?

There are other downsides too, like how easy it is to slide into a late night scrolling spiral on social media, which does nothing good for my mind or heart.

But like any normal human, I resisted the idea of shutting my electronics down early.

Until finally, it dawned on me to re-frame.

Instead of thinking of what I was giving up, I began to think of it as—What could I add IN to my bedtime routine that would help me go to sleep feeling amazing?

I decided to give up my screens for one hour before bed (more when I could manage it, but one hour feels doable and realistic for me). Instead of staring at a device and falling asleep feeling as drained as ever, I started taking a hot bath, writing in my journal, finally getting serious about a gratitude practice, listening to mellow music

In short, it was beautiful.

I’ve done it for long enough now that I could never go back.

That last hour of my day is essential to my mental health. Essential to my ability to keep on giving to the people around me, because I’ve taken the time to fill myself up first.

Join Us

If you’re under-utilizing your bedtime routine, I’d love to have you take a look at my 7-day mini-course for women just like you. Women who want to end their days on the best possible note—and to see how that intentionality spill overs into the rest of their lives.

Join us! Design a Soul-Filling Bedtime Routine

Sweet dreams!
Erica

PS. Let me know in the comments what your nights are typically like! Is this something you’ve mastered, or are you (like most of us!) a work in progress?

8 Comments

  • Reply
    Denaye
    February 7, 2018 at 4:31 am

    I have the sunrise alarm clock and I LOVE it. It’s such a subtle and gentle way to wake up. I set it for an hour before my kids wake up and then I go retrieve my electronics (which live on a mass charging station outside of the bedroom) and then I get an hour of work done before the kids get up. I would really love to exercise during this time but right now it’s just not happening in the mornings! My husband set up the charging station as a way to get the electronics all out of the bedroom at night. Although he’s usually the one needing the reminders!

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      February 7, 2018 at 2:31 pm

      I love this, Denaye! Good for you guys for being so purposeful. I think a family docking station will become even more important as our kids get older, so I figure I might as well get started sooner than later! And I’m glad to know you like the sunrise alarm! I’ve got #3 in my cart at the moment!

  • Reply
    Anne McOmber
    February 11, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    This post couldn’t have come at a more fitting time, Erica! With the convenience of literally everything on my phone it’s so easy to be sucked in, even with the intention not too. The other day, my toddler put her face in front of mine, pointed to the phone in my hand I was looking at (for I’m sure too long) and said to me, “All done.” Talk about an eye-opening moment. Painful but needed! I’ve been making an even bigger effort to give my phone less of my attention throughout the day ever since. 🙂 It’s been a really positive change on so many levels, but I love the idea of setting an actual “curfew” for before bed. I’m looking forward to the 7 day challenge. Count me in!

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      February 11, 2018 at 8:40 pm

      What a sweet, eye-opening moment with your daughter—Thanks for sharing, Anne! My girl will say “Mom, look at me,” when I’m accidentally zoned out with my phone and she’s trying to show me her latest and greatest. It’s sad that we have to struggle with this so much, but awareness is always the first step, right?! (Fingers-crossed emoji) 😉 And thanks so much for your interest in the challenge!!

  • Reply
    Melanie
    March 2, 2018 at 10:44 am

    It’s tough. I’ve given myself the limit of not using my phone between when I get home from work and when my kids go to bed (4:30-8:00) in order to try and be present with them, but have to do dishes and lunches after that…so the only time I DO allow myself to have screen time is around 9:00 at night! That said, with a night-waking toddler and full-time job, I am so sleep deprived that I NEVER have difficulty falling asleep no matter what I do before bed! I hope the challenge goes well for you. It’s always good to examine our habits around this and I’m happy I did that and decided to put my own limit in place!

  • Reply
    Kayla Taylor
    May 30, 2018 at 9:16 pm

    This is so marvelous. I have been feeling for quite some time that I need to create a beautiful bedtime routine. Thank you so much for the inspiration (I’m writing this at 11:00 at night. Ugh!).

    • Reply
      Erica Layne
      June 5, 2018 at 11:33 am

      Haha, I get that, Kayla! I’m glad this touched you! Best wishes!

  • Reply
    Annie
    July 26, 2018 at 11:27 am

    I discovered years ago that lack of sleep was one of my migraine triggers. I made a commitment to go to bed by 10pm each night to get up at 6am. Also, due to acid reflux I don’t eat after 7pm. Although I am occasionally hungry by 10, not having food in my stomach helps me sleep better, no weird-too-spicy-burrito dreams! Since I work on a computer all day the last thing I want to do is be on another device when I get home. After dinner I read a book or magazine, often in bed, and by 9:30 I’m fighting to stay awake to finish and article or chapter. Most mornings I wake before my alarm. It takes commitment though, especially if there is a good movie on TV.

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