Unwind with these entertaining, screen-free hobbies for an unplugged, restful night.

When we mindlessly reach for our devices to decompress after a long day, they can sneakily sabotage the rest we need. Between the constant buzz of social media and the emotional twists of a show we’re binging, falling asleep can feel impossible. Unfortunately, even when we muster the willpower to power down our screens, our minds don’t have a convenient “off” switch.

Blue light emitted by electronic bedtime companions, particularly smartphones and tablets, is an element to blame. This subtle light suppresses melatonin and throws off sleep cycles, leaving us tired and lethargic the next morning. Plus, the mental stimulation caused by the nature of the content we consume and the pressure of daily life further contributes to restlessness. 

Instead of impulsively tuning into your phone or TV all night, how about getting hooked on a fun hobby? Whether you enjoy it solo or with loved ones, it can be a more meaningful way to relax in the evening. My favorite pastime? Getting cozy in bed and unwinding with a good book

Here are more screen-free activities for relaxation and better sleep.  

Get into a creative flow 

Creating art can quiet your mind and ease you into a state of complete absorption known as a flow state. In this state, worries fade away as you become fully immersed in the creative process.

Fiber art forms like crocheting, knitting, felting, embroidery, and tufting are gratifying, especially as you develop your skills. As intricate stitches come together or a simple scarf grows row by row, the rhythmic click-clack of needles and the feel of soft threads gliding through your fingers can be meditative. Working with organic materials like wool, cotton, or hemp adds another layer of comfort, and choosing recycled yarns allows you to create something while being kind to the environment.

You can tap into a flow state with other mediums, too. Practice mindfulness by doodling, coloring in coloring books, folding origami, hand lettering, and painting with gouache. Or, if you prefer building with your hands, assembling miniature decor is another engrossing creative outlet. Build a floral bouquet using Lego pieces, arrange ferns and mosses inside a terrarium, or create a whole world within a DIY book nook kit.

woman crocheting in bed

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Read More: How to Make a Braided Rug

Solve puzzles or play a game 

A jigsaw puzzle, brain teaser book, or classic crossword can engage your mind in a stress-free challenge. There’s the quiet satisfaction of meticulously piecing together a puzzle, watching a fragmented image transform into a complete picture with every click. The process brings a sense of satisfying accomplishment — especially when you fit the last piece in its place.

Board or card games offer similar benefits. The relaxing social interaction of a game night, with clinking game pieces and shared laughter, or the quiet contemplation of strategic thinking can be a welcoming mental escape compared to the isolating nature of screen time. Remember, the goal is to unwind, so keep things lighthearted and avoid overly competitive or complicated games that might lead to frustration.

Bake something delicious

Baking isn’t just about making tasty treats—it can be a comforting creative expression. There’s the satisfaction of measuring flour, stirring batter and being enveloped by sweet aromas as you watch a cake rise or a batch of cookies turn golden brown. Even for beginners, many simple recipes have short prep times and minimal ingredients that you can whip up and taste in under 30 minutes. The key is to choose a recipe that you find enjoyable and isn’t a hassle to clean up.

Don’t worry about earning a star baker title — even a slightly lopsided cake can be a source of pride and a testament to the delicious joy of creating something in the kitchen. As you enjoy your home baked goods, savor the flavors.

person painting on bedroom floor

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Immerse yourself in a book

There’s something undeniably comforting about curling up with a good book. Treat yourself to a new read from your local bookstore or library, or browse the vast selection of ebooks and audiobooks available through apps like Libby and Kindle.

I enjoy the screen-less, page-flipping experience of physical books. But if you prefer the convenience of e-readers, some models, like the Kindle Paperwhite or Kobo, use e-ink technology, minimizing blue light exposure and mimicking the feel of traditional books with adjustable warm lighting.

Choose a bedtime read from one of your comfort genres. Maybe a heartwarming romance will make you blush, a historical fiction novel will transport you to another era, or a fantasy will take you on an otherworldly adventure.

Read More: 6 Eco-Friendly Perks of a Library Card

Stretch your tension away

Gentle yoga poses can work wonders to release built-up stress before bed. Grab your favorite meditation and yoga pillows, light your favorite candle or turn on your essential oil diffuser, and leave your day on the mat. Even if you’re new to yoga, many restorative practices are for beginners or those with limited mobility. They target major muscle groups, focusing on lengthening them and releasing tension. For example, a simple child’s pose with your forehead resting on the ground can gently stretch your back and hips.

As you move through poses, focus on your breath, feeling the rise and fall of your chest with each inhale and exhale. This mindful connection between breath and movement draws your attention inward and away from tiresome distractions. Breathwork, on its own, can also improve mood, reduce physiological arousal, and prepare the body for sleep. Techniques like cyclic sighing and box breathing are particularly effective.

How to do box breathing:

  1. Inhale slowly through your nose for a count of four.
  2. Hold your breath for a count of four.
  3. Exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of four.
  4. Repeat this cycle for five minutes.

woman stretching in bed

Photo courtesy of Pexels.

Read more: Unwind with These Bedtime Yoga Stretches

Indulge in luxurious body care

Create a soothing bedtime routine and take a steamy shower, or draw a warm bath with a snoozy bath soak. Combining warm water and the rejuvenating scent of essential oils will work wonders on your muscles and mind. While soaking, pamper yourself with a nourishing face mask. Then, moisturize with a reishi body melt and body oil, and spend a little extra time on your skincare routine by gently massaging your face during each step.

Before it’s time to sleep, take some time to quiet any rambling thoughts and ground yourself in gratitude. Journaling can help you process your day and focus on things you’re grateful for. You can also set intentions for the next day to ease any lingering anxieties so you can sleep soundly.

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