Queering Bedtime: 5 Things to Do Before Bed and the 1 Thing Not to Do

Queering Bedtime: 5 Things to Do Before Bed and the 1 Thing Not to Do

If you ever have a hard time falling asleep, try doing some of these things before you go to bed, and also what not to do. When you set yourself up for a restful night, you might find it easier to get to sleep

First, let’s talk about what not to do

Stop looking at screens before bed.

Whether it’s your phone, tablet, computer or something else, the light from the screen disrupts the natural cycles that make you feel sleepy.

You want to stop looking at any screens about 1-2 hours before you’re going to go to sleep. This can significantly improve your body’s ability to wind down and sleep well throughout the night.

Okay, I know this one is tough because you might have a lot of things going on on screens that you might want to do before bed, like

  • chatting and sending messages to people you care about
  • watching shows and movies,
  • reading articles and stuff,
  • there’s all kinds of stuff you could want to be doing that’s happening on a screen

but by putting it down 1-2 hours before bed you can make it a lot easier for yourself to rest and feel good when you wake up.

No, really, stop looking at your screen

rabbit hole
noooooo, I need to sleep plz

No, but really, I know it’s hard. I look at my phone to set my alarm and change music throughout the evening just as I’m going to bed, but I try not to get so fully engaged with the screen.

And it’s really difficult to be disciplined with it. When I pick up my phone right before bed, for my alarm or music, it can easily lead to checking my messages, which can then lead me down a rabbit hole of gifs and memes.

But I feel so much better, (and more in control of my life?) when I’m not doing stuff online right up until I go to bed.

Give it a try, cut down on your pre-bedtime screen time. 

This one is probably the most important because if you can manage to do this, then doing other things to settle down will be easier.

But, if you do need to look at a screen for something, don’t stress about it. Try and look at a smaller screen if possible so you don’t take in as much of that screen-light. Do what you need to take care of without getting lost in screenland for too long.

Ideas for other things you can do before bed

So, if you can’t do things online before bed, what can you do?

Well my friends, there are plenty of things that you can do before bed that will make you feel more relaxed and maybe even a little bit happier.

Read books!

Reading books is great to do anytime, but before going to bed is one of the best times.

When you read a book for as short of a time as 6 minutes you:

  • lower your heart rate,
  • reduce tension in your muscles,
  • and feel more relaxed

Also, a survey of straight people found that people who read books are considered to be better lovers, and it is my very scientific opinion that queers who read books really make the best lovers. Another benefit of reading!

And aside from whatever some straight people said in a survey, reading fiction has been found to increase empathy, making you a more caring and understanding person.

Empathy lets you love everyone in your life, and that’s queer af.

Then there’s all of the nonfiction books in the world that can teach you about pretty much anything you could ever want to know.

that person must be very empathetic and a fantastic lover

And if there’s not a book out there about what you want to read about, reading more will help you be on your way to writing that book yourself.

Write in a journal

Even if you don’t plan on one day writing your own book, a focused and reflective way to relax before bed can be to write in a journal.

If you don’t know what to write about, that’s okay. You can really write about anything.

If you want some ideas for thing you can write about, try writing about:

A few different things you experienced during the day

You can go into detail describing what you saw/heard/felt/smelled or tasted or just describe anything.

A few things you feel grateful for in your life

This might sound kind of cheesy, but it has been proven that reflecting on things you’re grateful for makes you feel happier.

A few things that are worrying you

While thinking of what you’re grateful for is great, what’s keeping your mind busy is probably stuff that you feel anxious about. By writing down the thoughts that are keeping you from feeling relaxed, you can let yourself start to relax instead of spinning around in the same thoughts.

And, in case the thought of writing about things that worry you stresses you out, here’s some writing prompts to get you started from I Dream of Sleep:

  • I can’t sleep because I’m worried about…
  • I can’t sleep because tomorrow I have to…
  • I can’t sleep because I’m thinking about how to fix…
  • I can’t sleep because I’m mad about…
  • I can’t sleep because I have an idea about…

If your mind is racing and you’re too stressed to sleep with all kinds of thoughts from the day, then write them down!

And if you can think about what you can do about any of it, write that down too, and you’re on your way to relaxation, knowing that you’re taking steps to dealing with your shit.

By getting whatever’s going on down on paper and outside of your mind, you can lay down feeling a little bit lighter.

Although a big part of why we sleep is to let our body rest, another part of sleeping is to process what happened during the day. By writing down what you’re thinking about, you’re making your mind’s job for the night that much easier to work through.

Draw a thing

If you don’t feel like working with words, try drawing something. You can draw a picture or abstract lines and squiggles and stuff.

Even if you don’t usually think of yourself as “an artist,” you can still try drawing stuff and see what comes out.

Drawing repeating patterns can be a relaxing way to let your mind wander while you wind down.

Color a picture

If you don’t know where to start with drawing, you can color something else in. There’s lots of coloring books out there about almost anything you could be into.

And here’s (where I get very excited about) some different ideas and images that you can print out and color to get you started:

Plants (and Body Positivity) – Here are some coloring sheets with cacti and succulents you can color in. Plants have some of the coolest designs in nature, and they’re some of my favorite subjects to draw and color. And, plants that share messages about body positivity are even better.

Crystals – Also some of the coolest designs in nature, crystals rock! No but really, lots of crystals are as old as the planet. That is amazing.

Space – What’s maybe even more amazing than thinking about crystals, is thinking about how we are all floating around in space right now?! Give yourself some cosmic perspective while you color in planets and stars.

Queer stuff! – There’s more queer coloring books out there than you might imagine, unless you imagine that there’s more than a couple, but still, there are a few! These are some of the less graphic ones that I found, but if you want coloring pages that are a little more, ahem, colorful, they’re definitely out there.

Frida Kahlo – honor this legendary Queer Mexican artist with your own art inspired by them.

Animals wearing things – after space and plants and crystals and fighting patriarchy and Frida Kahlo, what else could there be to color pictures about? Well here are some cats wearing glasses and cute outfits; they also both have flowers, which makes them even better. Here is also a puppy wearing jewelry and looking fierce, but friendly. Color them in and they’ll be even more fun.

*disclaimer – I don’t have ownership of any of these images* I found these coloring pages and pictures through some Google image searching, and some were from Pinterest and some were from Tumblr, or other coloring sites, and if you identify any of this work as not for being freely shared, let me know and I’ll take it down..

If you can think of other things you’d like to color, you can also do an image search and find lots of pictures you could print out and color. (But what could you really be interested in aside from cats wearing glasses and space pictures? Come on, let’s be real. What else is there?)

Also tbh, just writing about all of those nice things made me feel happier and more relaxed, so try coloring a picture that will leave you feeling happy and relaxed.

So, this actually ended up being a lot more about coloring than I had planned on, but it really is a great way to relax. And you can try it at other times during the day too when you want to open up your creativity in a low pressure way.

Give Yourself a Massage

Something you can do for yourself that will help you relax, feel great and go to sleep more easily is self-massage.

In this video, a licensed massage therapist goes through a massage for your face that you can do while you’re lying in bed.

It only takes a couple of minutes, and it feels really good.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ezp1YLGXmbA&w=560&h=315]

Deep Breathing

So you already know you can change how you feel with your breath. It’s one of the most powerful tools you have that can help you feel more relaxed quickly, and without needing anything else at all to do it.

First: Slow it down

Slow down the rate of your breathing. Focus on making each inhale longer and each exhale longer.

You can practice while you’re reading this by breathing along with this gif:

Isn’t life weird? It sure is, but hey, whatever works.

(But don’t look at the gif before bed, because you’re not supposed to be looking at your screen, remember? Just practice with it now and remember the feeling of taking slow, deep breaths as you’re getting in bed.)

So when you’ve got your breathing nice and slowed down, you can use a breathing pattern to help your system prepare to snooze.

A relaxing way to breathe

inhale through your nose while you slowly count to two

hold your breath while you slowly count to three

exhale through your mouth while you slowly count to four

I’ve seen other instructions that say inhale for four, hold for seven, and exhale for eight—but when I do that I feel like I have to count too fast and it stresses me out.

By cutting the numbers in half I can count more slowly and it feels more relaxing for me. You can try it out and see what feels better for you.

In addition to changing the rate of your breathing, you can also try left-nostril breathing to help your system go into a more restful state.

Wrapping up on how to wind down

So here are some ideas for different things that you can do before bed to help you get to sleep.

These are some suggestions I hope you find helpful on your way to relaxation, but ultimately, you’re the one who knows what works best for you.

And next week, we’ll go into some helpful herbs for hitting the hay and different ways that you can take them.

Thanks for reading! Try some of these activities before bed and see how that goes for you. And if you think this is interesting, please go ahead and share it with a friend who might also be into it.

Feel free to send us a note saying how it’s going for you. Or if you have any questions about your experience with it, feel free to ask, and we’ll get back to you.

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