S1:E11 | Tiers of wind down - how to create a flexible wind down routine that changes with your needs

podcast season 1 wind down wind down time
tiers of wind down podcast

All days are not created equal and so all wind down time should not be created equal either. Do you know how to create a flexible wind down routine that can change depending on the needs of your day or the phase you are in?

That’s what we are talking about in this episode. 



Hello and welcome back to The Sleep Seekers Podcast. I’m your host, Emma Ashford. 

In this episode of the podcast, we are continuing in the theme of wind down time which we are covering for the whole season and today I’m going to introduce you to my concept around having tiers for your wind down time. 

Now, if you haven’t listened to my other podcasts so far on wind down time, I highly recommend you go back and listen to them, but if you haven’t, wind down time is that magical piece of time before bed which acts as your runway into sleep, and when you get it right, it can perfectly prepare your mind and body for a great nights sleep. 

Now, the reason I created the concept of having tiers of wind down time is because all days are not created equal, and what you need on one night, may not be the same as what you need on another night. 

The wind down time you need after a nice fun relaxing family day might be quite different to the wind down time you need after a really full on day at work. The wind down time you need after working late, might look different to the wind down time you need after having had the afternoon off. So the idea of having tiers of wind down time takes this into account. We are not designing one version of wind down time for use every single day no matter what. We are designing options for your wind down time that you can pick and choose from depending on the circumstances that day and how you are feeling. 

The wind down course talks you through the tiers of wind down time in detail and the wind down journal has a page to fill this in so if you have the journal, go to that page and use it there. 

But essentially, imagine a pyramid. The bottom of the pyramid is your everyday normal circumstances. So at the bottom of the pyramid you have the types of wind down activities that you enjoy and that work for you on a normal day to day basis. 

Then as you move up the pyramid, this is where the activities go that support you to wind down when you need more support, are more stressed or something is happening in your life. What helps you to relax more at these times? You should need these things less often, hence the size of the pyramid is smaller but when they are needed they are needed. 

So, for example, on a normal day to day basis you might enjoy using a simple breathing technique for a few moments by yourself, but when you need more support to wind down, you might find a guided relaxation MP3 or app more helpful. 

Or, on a normal day to day basis you enjoy watching something on TV but when you need more help, you find having a bath and listening to music relaxes you more. 

The reason I encourage you to physically write ideas down on a pyramid is because in the moment of being busy or stressed or having a late night, it’s so easy to forget and go into survival mode of unconsciously doing the same old thing or worse, scrolling the social media feeds of doom. When you have thought this through and have it written down, almost like a menu, it is so much easier to put it into action. Even better, if you have a copy of my wind down journal, when you are thinking ahead and planning your week, you can be slotting in appropriate activities into your plans by referring to your pyramid.


If you have ever attended a Q&A session with me inside one of my programmes or worked with me in any way, you might have heard me talking about the idea of ‘strengthening your wind down time’ - by this I essentially mean going up the pyramid and creating more support for yourself to wind down. I often suggest strengthening your wind down time when something unusual or challenging is happening in your life, when you have a lot of stress or when you have a particular day of the week that is acting as a trigger for more challenging sleep. 

I literally just spoke to someone this week and I suggested he strengthen his wind down time on a Sunday evening because being a teacher, he often finds he doesn’t sleep so well on a Sunday night as he does on the other nights. Very recently I also spoke to someone else about strengthening her wind down time while she goes through a transition at work that is taking her to a new work location and she has found before that her sleep becomes disturbed by a lot of thinking when she goes through transitions at work. Two perfect, every day examples of when you might need to think about strengthening your wind down time. 


The aim is to get to a place where you seamlessly move up and down the pyramid without much thought, constantly responding to your life or your needs at the time. 

But this is not where you start. You start in a place of exploration and trial and error. 

This is what the wind down journal and the wind down programme are designed for. They are a chance for you to explore your sleep and what works for you because it can be a very unique experience. 

The great thing is that once you have got to know your sleep and have your menu of wind down options, this is an asset for life. Life will always throw things at you, there will always be challenges or bumps in the road but being able to support yourself with these and help your sleep to be resilient becomes a tool in your tool box that will serve you again and again. 

If you want to find out more about the wind down journal and the wind down programme, just got to sleepseekers.academy  

I hope you have fun creating your wind down pyramid (feel free to tag me on social media and tell me what you have on yours). I will look forward to seeing you next time on the sleep seekers podcast.