There’s nothing like cozying up under the covers and scrolling through your Instagram feed after a long day. But if you’ve ever wondered why you have so much trouble sleeping, your phone might be to blame.
“The light from your phone (or any other source) at night – even dim lighting – can negatively affect your biological clock by suppressing melatonin production, [which regulates sleep],” says Deborah E. Anderson, a licensed psychologist and certified yoga instructor. The blue light essentially mimics the sun, thus waking up your brain. Studies also show that screen exposure at bedtime disrupts your REM sleep, which is important for things like learning, memory, creativity, and mood, and makes it harder to wake up the next morning.
Instead of swiping, scrolling, and double tapping in bed, here are five alternative ways to decompress before you catch some zzz’s.
Create a bedtime routine
Anderson recommends an evening ritual at least one to two hours before bed so your brain has time to naturally make more melatonin and shift into relaxation mode. Try activities that use your senses like taking a bath, using lavender essential oil, playing some quiet soothing music, or picking up a book (no tablets!). A regular sleep schedule also helps.
A simple breathing exercise can do wonders. “Breathing with intention, particularly when you engage your diaphragm muscle, turns on the relaxation response,” says Anderson. She suggests trying some belly or alternate nostril breathing techniques, which essentially tells your body that it’s safe and can now go to sleep.
Meditation is a powerful tool, as it can help quiet your mind so you feel calmer and more at peace, according to Anderson. If you’re not sure where to start, you can try guided meditations on FabFitFunTV or download mobile apps like Headspace or Insight Timer.
Strike a (yoga) pose
After yoga, you’ll feel lighter on your feet and calmer in your head. If you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, even one pose can do the trick. Try putting your legs up on the wall to help you relax. “It’s also great for draining fluids and swelling in your legs,” says Anderson.
Make a gratitude list
It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind and lose perspective of all the stuff that’s going right in life. Take a moment to reflect on the day to help cultivate happiness and contentment and to remind yourself to be more present and mindful, suggests Anderson.
xx, The FabFitFun Team
For more on the impact of sleep, learn what eight hours of rest can do for your body.