30 Ways To Help You Switch Off At Night
Picture the scene.
It’s 11pm, you’re in bed, your mind is racing and your mental “to do list” is getting longer by the minute. Fast forward to 1am, you’re still awake, tossing, turning, and still not able to switch off at night. Your eyes keep popping open and your hand is twitching for your phone, so you can scroll mindlessly in the hope it will distract you from the fact that you just can’t get to sleep!
Sound familiar? This is me pretty much most nights, or at least it was up until fairly recently when I decided to seek help.
I’m certainly not alone. We live in a time of information overload. What with 24-hour news, social media, WhatsApp, emails, Teams, Slack, we’re always receiving information and were always available through one channel or another. The pandemic has only exacerbated this, as we rely even more heavily on technology to keep in touch.
It’s also increased our anxiety levels, caused stress-induced health issues for many of us and blurred the boundaries between work and home, feeding into an “always on” culture, meaning many of us are struggling to relax, switch off and get the rest we need, until at one point or another we reach burnout.
I didn’t quite reach that point thankfully. Randomly, my trigger for implementing change was watching Batman Returns with my son. As I watched scenes of the film with the Penguin, played by the awesome Danny DeVito, I realised that I looked as bad as Oswald Cobblepot, or at least the bags under my eyes were so deep and dark that they could compete with his, without the hours that Danny spent in make-up to achieve them!
Sleeping just 4-5 hours a night was obviously taking its toll on the way I looked and felt and I knew I couldn’t carry on functioning this way for much longer, without a bigger fallout awaiting me (a more serious one than the mortification of realising I looked like the Penguin!).
I needed to find ways to help switch my brain off and implement techniques to stop overthinking everything, or I’d end up slipping even further down the rabbit hole.
So, I turned to my wonderful Facebook community – many who had experienced sleep deprivation themselves – but were able to manage it.
- A warm bath with essential oils such as lavender or geranium. Try Epsom salts too, especially if you have aches, pains or strains.
- Keep your bedroom completely dark.
- Make a list of everything on your to do list before bed, break it down into different categories to help you organise your thoughts.
- Keep a journal by your bedside, you can use this for your lists or for anything that you feel like writing down. You can also use it if you wake in the night – get it out of your head and on to paper – so you can go back to sleep quickly.
- Deep sleep pillow spray – the This Works one is simply amazing and smells gorgeous too. My niece recommended this, and I wouldn’t be without it. My mum uses it now and it really helps her too.
- Banana tea.
- Herbal tea – I love chamomile tea, it really settles my stomach which is where I think I hold a lot of my stress.
- Evening yoga will help you switch off at night – try wind down Yoga with Adriene on YouTube – choose from 12 or 20 minute wind down sessions. Super easy, super relaxing. I didn’t realise how tense I was until I started doing these short sessions.
- No phone at least 1 hour before bed and don’t have it by your bedside. Turn your notifications off after 8pm. This is easier said than done but I really found this made such a difference when I did do it. I set my alarm to loud and leave my phone in the hallway so I can still use it as an alarm clock (mostly unnecessary as I have an 9 month old that does that job pretty well!). I now have a little torch by my bed which I use if one of the kids wakes up or I need the bathroom, so I don’t need to use the light on my phone and I avoid the temptation of checking my emails in the middle of the night.
- Earplugs – an effective way to block out sounds such as traffic noise which can interfere with sleep.
- Read or listen to a book. One recommendation was Dawn O’Porter’s lockdown diary – Life in Pieces which is just brilliant for switching off before bed and is funny and relatable.
- If you struggle with overthinking, then this book is for you: Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr Joe Dispenza. Another fabulous recommendation.
- Listen to calm music.
- Try one of the meditation apps – Calm, Headspace and Breathe were recommended – Calm offers a 7 day free trial.
- Write down or think about three positive thoughts before you go to bed.
- Honest Guy mediation on YouTube.
- CBD Oil, try Blessed CBD oil.
- Rub lavender & chamomile cream on your feet and put socks on before bed, it’s ultra-moisturising and sleep inducing. Try the Intensive Hand & Body Butter with Lavender & Chamomile Essential Oil by the Kind Lifestyle Co. It comes in a glass jar and they offer a refill service so you can do your bit for the environment too.
- Try the restful roller by the Kind Lifestyle Co too. Put it on the soles of your feet and the back of your neck before bedtime.
- Listen to a podcast.
- Start taking a magnesium citrate supplement. I’ve been using the Nu U Nutrition brand.
- Listen to BBC Sounds.
- Practice self-care – even if it’s just taking a long hot shower before bed – do something that is just for you every night.
- Try to establish a daily routine and start and stop work at the same time every day.
- Get out of your head and into your body with some embodiment practices. Kerry O’Sullivan is fabulous at this and has a FREE download here that has some great practices to get you started – https://kerryosullivan1.ck.page/10powerfulpractices.
- Practice deep breathing before bed to help you switch off at night.
- Avoid caffeine after 2pm.
- If you work from home, go for a walk after you’ve finished work and before your evening “home life” begins, it helps to provide a circuit breaker between work and home.
- Exercise during the day. It’s so good for so many reasons but one of them is that you’ll sleep better.
- Try the Passionflower herb. Always make sure you do your research and consult with your doctor before taking any herbs.
We may thrive on stress and little sleep for a short time, but none of us are robots. Rest is essential for our physical and mental health and is something we cannot do without.
I’ve implemented a combination of the above and it’s working for me most nights, I hope some of them do for you too.
Do you have any further techniques or tips that help you switch off at night so you can get the sleep and rest that you need? I’d love to add what works for you to this list. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org