The 21st century has made us more robotic than the human race was ever meant to be. And I felt it first hand. We hustle day after day to live a good life. But what we can’t do is winding down at night properly.
For me, I always wanted to dress up nicely, read a book and go to sleep. But it seems like an impossible task lately because the hustle of the day haunts me at night and it disrupts my sleep. I end up thinking about what I’m going to do the next day instead of taking the time to relax.
But that had to change. For my own good. And the methods I followed turned out so good that I couldn’t help but share them with you.
Leave the Work at Work
This was the first major step I had to take to get my mind off of work. You see, you can’t expect to have a good night’s sleep when you have work hanging over your head. Winding down at night requires you to get rid of all pending work and being in a calm state of mind.
So, start doing the work on time. Don’t beat around the bush during the day just to bring work home. Home is your safe haven. Nothing foreign should penetrate it. Cut down the lunchtime if you have to. But finish the day’s work at the workplace.
Of course, if you have something of dire emergency, that’s a different case. But don’t let dire emergencies ruin your nights.
Change your clothes Immediately
I had a bad habit of wearing my work clothes till I went to bed. And I didn’t realize how much it was hampering my goal of winding down at night. You see, all of the sweat, the dust, and dirt stick to the clothes. You might not see them with the naked eye, but your body certainly feels it. And it doesn’t let the brain go into relaxation mode.
Get into your pajamas when you’re home. Let them be as loose and sloppy as you want. This is your safe space. If you live alone, don’t hesitate to roam around with no clothes! Let your skin breathe as much as it wants.
Take A Shower
Why not take a shower? It might be a good idea to wash off the tiredness with a lukewarm shower.
When you’re in the shower, feel the water dripping down your skin. Feel how it penetrates your hair and flows down toward your feet. Feel in your mind that the water is taking all your worries along with it. Even if it sounds ridiculous, why don’t you try it for once?
Do Your Favorite Task
Before winding down at night, do one thing that you love. If it’s gardening, go out and take care of the plants. If it’s reading, take out one of your favorite writer’s publications and dive right in. If you’re a TV show lover like me, go on a binge! And don’t forget to take a little snack with you.
But you were supposed to relax, right? Well, the concept of doing something might seem contradictory. But it actually helps the brain release the ‘feel good’ hormones into your body. After you’ve taken care of everything throughout the day, don’t you want a little ‘me’ time?
Cut Off All Screens Before Winding Down at Night
If you like to watch TV or movies, don’t go over the top. Cut off all screens at least an hour before you go to bed. You might have heard it numerous times because it’s true. The blue light emitted from the devices tricks the brain into thinking that it’s still daytime. And it interferes with our circadian rhythm, which is also known as our biological clock.
If you have to attend to friends and family, let them know that you’ll be unavailable before bed. And when you have a loving family living afar, they’ll understand.
Most importantly, stay away from your phone. Even when we turn off the TV or computer, we tend to look at our phone screens. Maybe you want to tweet a little something or check out the latest fashion trends. Don’t.
Put your phone on Airplane mode and leave it be. If you must occupy yourself, get the habit of reading. Reading is a great way of bringing down blood pressure. And reduced blood pressure means lower core temperature. It all translates to good sleep.
Exercise for Winding Down at Night
What? Have you gone mad? I know a lot of you are screaming at me. Who would suggest you exercise after you’ve come home, all tired and messy after a long day? Well, studies have shown that exercise can reduce stress hormones! If you’ve heard of cortisol, it’s the number one reason behind your anxiety.
And exercising can burn cortisol to promote endorphin, the ‘feel good’ hormone I was talking about. It doesn’t have to be much. Just about 10-15 minutes of freehand exercise would do the trick.
Cut Down Caffeine Before Winding Down at Night
It’s one of the most common mistakes I made when my days were terrible. I used to drink coffee right after I got home to get rid of the tiredness. And it translated to who knows how many sleepless nights!
For your own good, don’t drink anything caffeinated after 7. You know what, make it 6. Let the body get rid of all the caffeine before you go to bed. If you have the habit of drinking something around that time, replace it with another drink. It might be a simple tea or lemonade. Just anything without caffeine.
Don’t Drink Up
If you have the habit of drinking at night to help you with sleep, reduce the intake gradually. If possible, throw the habit out the window. Whether it be the classic red wine or the smokey scotch whiskey.
Depending on alcohol for better sleep is like living in the fool’s paradise. And I don’t want you to visit the fool’s paradise before winding down at night. Rather, drink something healthy. A glass of orange juice maybe?
It might take time to adapt to the habit, but trust me when I say this, alcohol is not good for sleep.
Write About Your Day
To take things one step further, you can start keeping a journal. Or a simple pen and paper routine will do. The idea here is that you write all the good things that happened to you on that day. When you write, you’re going to remember those moments before winding down at night.
And as you’re writing about the good memories, you’ll start to feel better automatically. Don’t let anything disrupt your train of thought. Just enjoy where your mind takes you.
By now, you should be on your bed. Tucked in and lights turned off. If this is the time when everything tends to go wrong with your sleep, you can always resort to mindfulness. The basic idea of anxiety comes from mind-body disconnection. And mindfulness allows you to reinstate the connection for winding down at night.
Mindfulness means bringing your mind to the present. Feel the warmth of the bed under you. Feel the silky-smooth finish on your blanket. Feel how the darkness is surrounding you when you close your eyes. Let your mind be present with your body on the bed, ready to drift apart.
The best practice for mindfulness starts with meditation. When you’re in a comfortable position, breath in deeply. And exhale slowly. Feel the fresh air coming through your nose and the toxic carbon dioxide leaving your body.
When you repeat the process a few times, your muscles will automatically start to relax. Feel them. If there’s tension anywhere on your body, just let go. Let go of everything. Make a safe place inside your head where you can go and relax. You may use guided meditation as well!
You’ll fall asleep before you know it.
Winding down at night is not something everyone can do with perfection. Our busy lifestyle is one of the biggest reasons why we can’t sleep peacefully at night. But following my experience, I hope you will find the rhythm in your life.
If you’ve read so far, you may see there are lots of tips. It’s not like you have to follow them all. Just pick your favorite ones and apply them to your routine. If you sweat the tips too much, it’ll just become another reason for your anxiety! And I certainly don’t want that before you wind down at night.