The Re:Set Guide to Building a Phone-Free Nighttime Routine

If the bright white light of your phone is the last thing you see each night before falling asleep, you are not alone. Given everything that is happening around us, it can be comforting to occupy ourselves with distractions instead of engaging in a nighttime routine that pushes us to confront our own thoughts and emotions.

But with COVID-19 restricting how much we socialize and with many still working from home, it is easy to slip into a cycle of moving from device to device without giving the body and mind a chance to rest. To learn how to build a calming nighttime routine and break out of the mindless midnight scrolling, we spoke to Linda Sage, a U.K.-based psychologist, author and self-care expert. 

“We’ve been in lockdown [and] with the amount of news that’s going on, people are just getting overwhelmed, they’re [reading] and listening to so much, they get confused and anxious about it,” Sage said. She elaborated that spending time away from screens and social media can be even more necessary now. “If you can, leave your phone outside the bedroom and choose an old-fashioned alarm clock,” she told Re:Set. You can also place it on silent or flight mode and put it further away from you with the screen down so you’re not tempted to pick it up when you get a notification. Cutting yourself free from being tied to your devices is simply the first step of winding down, whether you want to get into full zen mode or incorporate more active pursuits like yoga is solely dependent on you! 

It takes 28 days to build a habit, remarked Sage, so don’t expect to transform your bedtime routine overnight. Give yourself time and space to explore options and customize a schedule that works well for you. Here’s how you can get started:

Keep a tracker to customize what works for you

In the process of building your nighttime routine, there can be hits and misses. Note down what you did each night, try it out for a few days, and put a checkmark next to it if you enjoyed it and want to continue or put an X to move on to another activity to try.

A tracker will help you become more consistent with staying off your phone and exploring more relaxation techniques that work for you.

We focus on in-depth stories and digestible resources for young people, parents and educators. With the aim to dispel misconceptions and foster honest dialogues, Re:Set promises a safe, inclusive space that encourages conversations on issues that matter and inspire change. As one of the few publications dedicated to telling original stories around mental health and inclusion, we collaborate with people to share their lived experiences and bring on board experts and other key voices to offer insights into these often stigmatized topics. Our stories also address gaps in policy when it comes to education, gender equality and accessibility. We’re always on the lookout for new stories and people to talk to. Want to write for us? Do you have a story to share or a topic you think Re:Set should cover?