There is a lot of conventional wisdom about sleep. If sleep is a problem for you, I’m sure you’ve read most of it—and I won’t bore you by repeating it here. However, THE single most useful thing I’ve ever found for quality sleep isn’t in the standard “sleep better” blog posts.

Are you ready?

The Key to Falling Asleep Faster is …

UNPLUG. Yep, a full 30 minutes before you want to go to bed, unplug. No desktop computers, laptops, iPads, iPhones, iAnythings. No TV, Droid, Blackberry (crackberry), or anything with a backlit screen.

Before you have a full-blown panic-attack, let me explain why.

1. The backlighting on those screens causes artificial brightness that screws with our circadian rhythms. Yes, I know the room lights are still on, but the light from a screen is much brighter than the lights in a room. Pro Tip: I oftentimes turn down the brightness of my screen at night, and I often feel instantly more relaxed.

2.  Computers, TV, and other devices cause a lot of stimulation through colors, noise, and sound that our brains need to process. Reduce the number of stimuli, reduce the amount of processing that needs to happen.

I know stepping away from the laptop can sound scary. You have the next great novel to write, so what can you do?

In an ideal world, I’d tell you to find something entertaining, but not too engaging, to read. Personally, I use that time to get through that stack of magazines I’m perpetually behind on.

But, if you really must work, then print out a few pages to proof/edit, write out some character development by hand, or sketch out the next scene graphically. Being unplugged may even give you a creativity boost by having to try something new!

Studies show that the incidence of chronic disease and obesity increases significantly when people get less than 7 or more than 9 hours of sleep per night. And, we all know from personal experience that we just plain get less smart when we are sleep-deprived. So, adopt this little habit so you can sneak in a few more minutes each night. You will wake up smarter, thinner, and better looking … really!

The Plan:
1. Unplug at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
2. Find something relaxing to do in those 30 minutes.
3. Lights out and sleep well!

That’s my favorite fall-asleep-faster trick. What is yours? Share in the comments below.


Jen Waak is a Seattle-based movement coach who uses a system that combines eastern philosophy with western medicine to reprogram the nervous system and get people out of pain, moving better, and feeling younger.


Comments are closed.

  1. JR Branson 12 years ago

    I’m behind on my computer reading…just came across this post — thanks! I’ve always heard to “unplug” and never found it practical – hey, I’m busy cramming in every last thing I can each day 🙂

    For some reason, though, knowing the physiological reasons — backlit screen and stimulus necessity — makes the advice seem real and not just something my mom made up to get me to bed early because she wanted to stay up late by herself … not that I’m bitter or anything 😉

    Also the idea of attacking my pile of mags is genius…sometimes the easy solutions are the most elusive. Thanks again for moving me forward!

  2. Author
    Jen Waak 12 years ago

    JR, glad I could help! Like you, I need to know “why.” The same resistance I showed as a kid to eating my veggies (it’s taken decades to get over that one). Funny how, “it’s good for you” simply isn’t a good enough answer. 🙂

  3. […] I’ve talked here and here about how your brain processes information during downtime. Last month, I discussed ways you can get a better night’s sleep. The July column is all about the power […]


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