When it comes to sleep—or lack thereof—my game is a little off. Many nights, I’m unable to quiet my mind enough to get a decent amount of shut-eye (that’s about seven hours a night for adults between the ages of 18 and 60). But what’s a 21st-century, eternally plugged-in grown-up to do?

That’s where Life After 7pm comes in. Developed by local acupuncturist Damiana Corca, the 21-day sleep program uses daily emailed advice to encourage small changes in your routine to coax a better night’s rest. Corca plans to launch versions geared toward creative types, athletes, and the elderly, as well as an app, early this year. “Being able to sleep at night is, in a sense, being able to make peace with yourself,” Corca says. “You don’t have to be strict about it. Use what you find useful.” Would it help? I tested the original Busy Professionals program to find out.

The Advice: “Give yourself exactly one hour before [bedtime] every night to devote to yourself.” That’s sans electronics.

The Challenge: As a sociable 29-year-old without kids, my evenings are rarely consistent. I worried late-evening obligations would cut into my sleep time.

The Result: While I couldn’t commit to this practice every night, when I did, I hit the pillow feeling more relaxed and ready for sleep.

The Advice: At night: “Spend some time writing down your thoughts. By putting these things on paper, you will keep them from racing through your mind after the lights are out.”

The Challenge: Unless I’m traveling, I’m not a big fan of journaling. It’s never something I’ve been able to do consistently.

The Result: It felt like a lot to write about my day, my worries and desires, what I was grateful for, and a to-do list for tomorrow. But incorporating just the latter two helped calm my mind—which was my biggest impediment to sleep.

The Advice: “Put together a morning ritual that makes you feel good. This should happen before you turn any electronics on.”

The Challenge: Typically, I start my mornings by checking my weather app and news alerts and glancing through my email…in bed. I’ve trained my brain to equate that process with getting a jump on the day—but I feel frazzled before I even leave the bedroom.

The Result: It’s refreshing. Instead of looking at my phone (OK, maybe I’m still guilty of the occasional Instagram scroll in bed), I try to ease into my day slowly, with a glass of water and a few deep breaths.

The Advice: “As a rule, try not to let your work seep into your evening routine.”

The Challenge: Well, yeah, that’d be great. Unfortunately, deadlines don’t just meet themselves.

The Result: Not always possible; sometimes projects demand work after hours. On nights I do leave my work at, well, work, my sleep quality improves and I feel less burned out.

Coming Soon

The Corca Sleep Center will open in Boulder on February 1, allowing Corca to provide more complete care (with help from a naturopath and an MD) and beef up class offerings. Visit lifeafter7pm.com to learn more.

This article was originally published in 5280 Health 2017.
Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer is an award-winning writer and editor based in Denver. You can find more of her work at daliahsinger.com.