Stash your phone outside your bedroom
One patient with a demanding job had a habit of keeping her phone at her bedside, so she was never out of touch with her office. That’s a dangerous habit for a number of reasons, including how damaging work stress can be to your health. In her case, the light from the screen—bright with melatonin-suppressing, blue-wavelength light—kept her from becoming drowsy. So did the mental stimulation from thinking about work late into the night.
She created a charging station for her phone (and her husband’s) in the kitchen. Having her phone out of the bedroom removed the stress and vigilance that came with having work at her bedside. It also reduced her light exposure, allowing her body’s natural melatonin to do its job. Though tough at first—she said she went through “withdrawal”—within a week she loved it.
Give yourself an hour to wind down
This patient, a mom with four kids under 10, used to squeeze every minute out of her day. When she finally collapsed into bed, she’d lie awake feeling wired and restless. “I’m exhausted, but I can’t sleep,” she told me.
I suggested she establish a Power Down Hour™ in her nightly routine. A 60-minute wind-down allows your mind to de-stress and your body to relax. I asked her to spend 20 minutes finishing up tasks, 20 minutes with nightly hygiene, and 20 minutes in true relaxation. It was tough for her to let go of that busy hour—until her productivity increased during the day, thanks to her additional rest. Having some time to herself at the end of the day also reduced her stress.