THE BLOG

101 Stress-Busting Ways to Chill Out at Night -- And Get Better Sleep

05/18/2015 08:25 am ET | Updated May 18, 2016
Shutterstock / gosphotodesign

It's no secret that working on your laptop scrolling through social media, or even zoning out for a Netflix binge-fest on your laptop or tablet can make it harder to fall asleep at night.

Answering emails and seeing what your friends are up to on Instagram can make your mind race, and research shows that the blue light emitted from our devices is highly energizing and can suppress the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.

But once you've made the decision to power down in the name of quality snooze time, what else is there to do instead?

Turns out, plenty. Here are 101 surprising, electronics-free activities that will help you wind down at night rather than rev up, making it easier to fall asleep and get a good night's rest. Go ahead, give 'em a try. Your body will thank you.

  1. Listen to music without distractions. (If you're streaming, pick a playlist with no ads and only look at your device to change songs!)
  2. Walk around outside, taking time to actually check out the sights, sounds and smells of your neighborhood.
  3. Relax on your porch or patio, enjoy the night and people watch.
  4. Keep a paper journal, and respond to a different prompt each night. (Here are some ideas to get you started.)
  5. Prep food for a healthy breakfast you'll be excited to wake up to like overnight oats or egg muffins.
  6. Pack a healthy lunch tonight and save $10 on a sub-par sandwich tomorrow.
  7. Buy a copy of a physical local newspaper on your way home from work. Sit in a comfy chair and read what's going on in your town.
  8. Organize your sock drawer, KonMari style.
  9. Take a steaming hot shower with a few drops of soothing eucalyptus oil.
  10. Make a sleep-friendly snack, like popcorn. Bonus points if you skip the microwave bag.
  11. Call your friend instead of texting them. If it seems weird at first, all the more reason to do it.
  12. Start a giant jigsaw puzzle.
  13. Spend quality time with your pet. Pets provide proven relaxation and mood benefits.
  14. Paint a picture. If you don't want to make a big investment, simple watercolors and sketch paper can do the job just fine.
  15. Try a paint or color-by-numbers book to zone out while working on your artistic side.
  16. Draw a comic strip about your day at work.
  17. Draw a self-portrait.
  18. Draw a self-portrait, blindfolded.
  19. Draw a portrait of your partner, friend, or kid.
  20. Draw a picture of your stress, then send it away.
  21. Visualize your happy place and sketch a picture.
  22. Practice calligraphy or improving your handwriting.
  23. Try making your own creative fonts.
  24. Knit something. Or embroider something. Or crochet.
  25. Pick up some flowers on your way home and rearrange them into an original bouquet.
  26. Be a tea connoisseur and make your own evening (caffeine free) nightcap blends. Natural foods stores often have loose teas and herbs available by the gram.
  27. Tell stories by flashlight or candlelight.
  28. Make a list of things you want to see before you die.
  29. Make a list of things that scare you. Try to figure out what they have in common.
  30. Make a list of 100 things that make you feel good.
  31. Do a crossword puzzle or a word search.
  32. Color in a detailed coloring book with crayons (there are even coloring books for adults now, and they are becoming quite trendy!).
  33. Play whisper down the lane with your kids (or your roommates).
  34. Build a fort together and camp out for the night.
  35. Start building a model airplane or car.
  36. Slow dance in the kitchen to oldies.
  37. Cuddle with your partner.
  38. Give your partner a massage.
  39. Write a letter with no intention of sending it.
  40. Write postcards to five friends you haven't spoken to in a while, and definitely send them.
  41. Make a collage. Of places you've been, places you want to go, things you want to do, the latest fashions, beautiful recipes, or anything that piques your interest.
  42. Write a short story about someone you see but don't actually know. (Paper notebook, please.)
  43. Make your five-year plan and lay out steps you need to take to get there.
  44. Give your mattress a good vacuuming, change your bedsheets, and spritz a calming scent in the air for a bed that screams "get in!".
  45. Clean something you've been avoiding, like that hall closet or junk drawer.
  46. Write a list of things you're grateful for. Higher levels of gratitude have been associated with better sleep.
  47. Listen to NPR.
  48. Listen to a sports game on AM radio.
  49. Listen to an audiobook or a podcast.
  50. Listen to binaural beats.
  51. Make a video journal of your day, and end it with positive affirmations.
  52. Make a mixtape of songs that make you feel blissful and tune in.
  53. Do a load of laundry. Because folding can be seriously relaxing.
  54. Lay out your outfit for the next day or week and get your ironing out of the way. It's one less thing you have to worry about tomorrow.
  55. Look through an old photo album and try remember the faces, places, sounds, sights and smells of that moment.
  56. Stretch. Doing light yoga or deep stretching before bed can help reduce pain.
  57. Massage sore or tense spots with a foam roller or tennis ball.
  58. Try dry brushing or a full body sea mud mask to pamper your skin.
  59. Do a facial complete with steam, exfoliation, and a mask. Look forward to waking up gorgeous.
  60. Give yourself a manicure and pedicure.
  61. Take a nice, long bubble or epsom salt bath. Keep lights low and play calming sounds. A warm bath before bed helps encourage your body's natural temperature drop that coincides with drowsiness.
  62. Teach your dog a new trick.
  63. Pick out a week's worth of outfits so you're not rushed in the morning.
  64. Recap your day. What were five things that made you happy?
  65. Recap your day. What was one thing that bummed you out or made you mad? Can you let it go?
  66. Recap your day. What's one instance where you could have done better?
  67. Recap your day. What was the strangest/most interesting thing you saw?
  68. Recap your day. What was the most inspiring thing you saw?
  69. Recap your day. Without consulting social media, do you have any idea what you did on this day last year?
  70. Start learning a new language. Write several phrases on flashcards, and play memory until you've mastered the group.
  71. Write a letter to your sixteen-year-old self.
  72. Write a letter to your eighty-year-old self.
  73. Write a letter to your child or future child.
  74. Make overnight pizza dough and have pizza for dinner tomorrow night.
  75. Make a weird diorama using junk around your house.
  76. Make up a new bedtime song with your kids.
  77. Blow bubbles outside.
  78. Sit outside and listen to the crickets.
  79. Pretend it's your job to come up with cool new names for every crayon in the crayon box.
  80. Learn how to fold origami cranes.
  81. Count your spare change. (Very boring, very meditative.) Bring it to the bank tomorrow and buy yourself something silly.
  82. Different constellations are best seen during different times of the year. Go outside and see which ones you can find.
  83. Or just stare at the sky and watch for shooting stars.
  84. Make your own yogurt.
  85. Make a friendship bracelet.
  86. Make a five-item time capsule, then stuff it in the back of your closet. Proceed to forget about it.
  87. Read a really old magazine or newspaper.
  88. Read a book of meditations.
  89. Read a book of poetry or practice your own haikus.
  90. Read a classic novel that you never got around to.
  91. Read a cookbook or cooking magazine and bookmark recipes that you want to make.
  92. Experiment with aromatherapy and pay attention to how your senses react to different smells and combinations.
  93. Lay in a comfy spot and practice deep breathing.
  94. Lay in a comfy spot and practice progressive muscle relaxation.
  95. Lay in a comfy spot and practice guided imagery.
  96. Try relaxing like a cat.
  97. Practice child's pose or legs up the wall pose.
  98. Practice savasana.
  99. Write your worries on a piece of paper and burn it.
  100. Lay in bed with your partner and play 20 questions.
  101. Lay in bed and listen to white noise, rain, ocean waves or other relaxing sounds.

Do you do any of the above things to chill out at night, or what are your favorite ways to wind down sans electronics? Share in the comments.

Rosie Osmun is the Creative Content Manager at Amerisleep, a progressive memory foam mattress brand focused on eco-friendly sleep solutions. Rosie writes more posts on the Amerisleep blog about the science of sleep, eco-friendly living, leading a healthy lifestyle and more.