How To Wind Down

You'd think that being busier than normal would make it easier to get to sleep, but recently I've been finding that sometimes no matter how exhausted I am I can't get my brain to switch off at the end of the day. A lot of the time I can tell when one of those nights is coming, and I've come up with a method of getting myself and my brain to wind down over the course of the evening, so that by the time I actually want to go to bed I'm ready to pass out.

Consciously Decide To Wind Down
Obvious. If you start doing the right things but your mindset is wrong then it's not going to work.

Over the last few months I've realised that being constantly accessible can be really frickin stressful subconsciously. Sometimes if I'm feeling really on-edge and I don't know why I'll switch my phone onto airplane mode and immediately feel a lot better, so put your phone on Do Not Disturb, close twitter and stop checking up on what everyone else is doing. If someone needs you it can wait til the morning, because if you were calm enough you'd probably be asleep by now and not checking things anyway. Concentrate on what's actually happening around you.

Appropriate Entertainment
Pick a movie or TV show that you can put on and just leave to play, as opposed to something like youtube videos that you have to constantly interact with to keep going. You know when you're little and your parents just sit you down in front of a Disney movie to make you chill out? That. Also obviously don't pick anything that's going to get you too hyped before bed. If you're watching it on your computer, try and use it like a TV in that you set up the movie, make it fullscreen and then just leave it. Don't switch tabs or do anything else with it from that point on.

Clear Away Everything Unnecessary
My room has been messy for the last week because I've been too busy to properly clean it, and I've noticed it makes it harder for me to chill out. Similarly, if you have a bunch of stuff on your bed or clutter left over from the day's activities just move them to the side so they're not immediately in your vicinity.

Get Basics In Order For The Next Day
Write a To Do list, pick your outfit, set alarms, make sure your keys are in your bag etc. Just take any stress out of the equation.

Hit The Lights
The key here is to slowly ease your brain into the idea that it's time to sleep, and having bright overhead lights on isn't going to do that. Lamps are your friend.

Prepare Yoself
Get into your pyjamas, wash your face, brush your teeth - do anything you need to do to get yourself ready for bed so you don't have to get back up at the last minute.

Candles & Other Scents
Candles are great for general ambiance, but you can also use the scent to your advantage. Choose a scent that makes you feel calm, or even one specifically designed for relaxation/night time - same goes for room sprays.

Do Something Calming
Watching a movie isn't going to calm you down if you're doing ten other things at the same time. This one comes completely down to personal preference, but pick something relaxing (like having a bath, drawing, doing your nails, colouring in idk) and do that while you watch, instead of checking your phone or scrolling through tumblr.

Appropriate Beverages
Goes without saying but obviously avoid caffeine as long before bed as you can. This eliminates green tea from the equation, but there are plenty of evening-appropriate teas to choose from. If you want to go full childhood, fang yourself together a hot chocolate or some warm milk with honey.

Switch Off
Once your movie/TV show is done, turn off ALL technology. No screens. It's scientifically proven that looking at screens keeps your brain awake, so if I know I'm going to have a hard time getting to sleep I put away not just my phone but my laptop and ipad as well at least an hour before I properly go to bed and it makes a big difference.

As I've said before, I find meditation really calming and helpful for clearing my mind (I used the Headspace app), and even if you're not into full meditations there are a lot of shorter guided ones specifically designed for sleep relaxation that you can download or get up on youtube. This would be my one exception to the no-technology rule, but just get the audio up and then leave it - don't use it as an opportunity to check ten other things at the same time.

Writing things down at the end of the day, even if you don't think you have anything specific to write about, clears everything out of your mind that might otherwise have been sitting in there going around and around when you're trying to sleep. I have a diary for when I'm feeling particularly emotive, but otherwise I have a Five Minute Journal that I do in the morning and at night, which acts as kind of a bookend to the day, or as they describe it "a toothbrush for your mind".

Once all your technology is away, if you're still not feeling like you're quite ready to sleep then get a book. A real one. Not one on your iPad or kindle. I'm all for reading books like that when it's convenient, but adding a screen into the equation at this point is not really going to help, is it. Half the time I'll get to this point and only make it through about a page and a half before I realise I'm ready to pass out.

Commit To Sleeping
Don't get up. Don't turn on the light. Don't check your phone. Obviously if it's been an hour and a half then sure, get up, but give yourself an actual chance to get to sleep before you decide it's not going to happen.

Obviously this isn't a guide on how to beat proper insomnia if you have it, but it should help if you're just finding it difficult to switch off after a stressful day. If you have any tips I haven't mentioned holler at me, otherwise I will see u again soon. x0