S1:E5 | What are the 3 biggest mistakes before bed?
Can you guess the 3 mistakes I see people making the most often when it comes to how they use their time before bed? The things that are likely to be sabotaging sleep rather than supporting it. Could you be guilty of some or maybe even all 3 of them? Let’s find out.
Welcome back to the Sleep Seekers Podcast and back to this current season where we are exploring wind down time - that all important hour before bed that has the power to make or break your sleep.
In this particular episode, we will talk about the 3 biggest mistakes that I see people make in relation to their wind down time. These mistakes come up time and time again and of course they often don’t feel like a problem until you turn your attention to them and spend some time reflecting on what you are doing.
If you want to improve your sleep, or want to do everything you can to promote good sleep, it’s important to make sure you correct these mistakes if you see yourself in them.
So let’s get to it …
Mistake number one is …
Not prioritising wind down time
This one might be the most obvious one. If you don’t prioritise your wind down time, you likely don’t have very good wind down time. It might be that you are busy right up until bed time, getting jobs ticked off the list, working, completing life admin, or catching up on the housework.
It might be that you are watching TV right up until its time for sleep, perhaps pushing bedtime later and delaying going to bed.
It might be that you are messaging friends, engaged in social media, continuing to get notifications right up until you go to sleep.
There are many reasons that lead to not prioritising wind down time before bed.
But this ultimately leads to treating sleep like a switch to flick - you go from being busy or being ‘on’ to wanting to flick the switch, turn off and get to sleep.
In reality, going to sleep is a transition, not a switch. It requires a transition to move from ‘on’ to ‘off’. It requires a transition in your body chemistry.
Wind down time is your runway into sleep that allows for this transition - and it really matters.
Without allowing for this transition, it can be harder to get to sleep and even if you are someone who gets to sleep no problem, the quantity and quality of your sleep is likely to be affected.
Since when did our lives get so busy that we can’t make space for wind down time? Since when did we become so available through our mobile phones and social media that we can never give our brains a chance to wind down before we expect them to ‘switch off’ for sleep?
Prioritising your wind down time and therefore prioritising this transition is really important for your sleep.
The second big mistake that I see people making all the time before bed is …
Distracting instead of relaxing
There is a whole episode dedicated to distraction vs relaxation as part of this season as it is a really important issue (find the link to this in the show notes)
To give you a brief overview here … most people engage in activities before bed that they believe are helping them to ‘wind down’ but in fact are only distracting the brain temporarily. For example, watching TV or scrolling social media. These things might distract the brain and move it away from worries, events of the day, anxiety etc but they are doing nothing to transition the body chemistry towards sleep. You might feel better for a while, but this is temporary and will often show itself in the quality and quantity of your sleep.
I’ve worked with lots of people who get to the end of the day and just want to ‘zone out’ in front of the TV or mindlessly scroll on social. And its completely understandable. It happens for people who work long days, parents who finally get a bit of time to themselves once the kids have gone to bed, etc etc
But, it is doing nothing for you and it is certainly doing nothing good for your sleep. You have to override this basic desire to feel better and go with the healthier option that is so much better for you in the long term. Just like when you want to have a lie in instead of getting up and doing the workout, or when you want to snack on sugar at mealtime rather than make a healthy option. We want to fulfil and immediate need but we never regret going with the healthier option in the longer term.
To me, because I have my wind down time dialled in and I have practised it, wind down time is so much more appealing than any kind of basic distraction.
So, it’s really important to go for relaxation instead of distraction. You might immediately know the difference as I have been talking about it, or it might take you some time to be able to tell these apart. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know and we all sometimes need some help to notice what’s happening - this is something that the wind down course can help you with.
And the 3rd most common mistake around wind down time is …
Not setting boundaries
Here is the problem … the world around us never stops these days. People can message us at any time of day or night. And generally it compels us to feel the need to reply. We get emails at all hours. Social media is constant and always wants to notify you of something. Whatsapp groups can be a constant stream of notifications. And so you can get to the end of your day, try to relax before bed but the notifications keep giving you something else to do.
And what this does, however subconsciously is give your brain the message that it can’t stop, that there is something else to do, or even worse, that you are missing out on something. This is not conducive to effectively winding down for sleep.
It isn't long ago, before mobile phones that if someone called after 7pm something must be seriously wrong. The world has moved on so much since then but this is not helping our levels of peace or our sleep.
We need to create a boundary to protect ourselves from this barrage. Let go of the thought that you have to reply to messages that arrive after a certain time. Turn your phone onto aeroplane mode when you start your wind down time. Put your phone away for the night until tomorrow.
We have to create boundaries that give our brains the message that there is nothing we need to do until the morning and it is completely ok to let go and relax.
So there you have it … the 3 biggest mistakes I see people making before bed that are having a detrimental effect on sleep and in my opinion, also having a detrimental effect on general mental health and wellbeing.
Are you making any of these mistakes? Has there been something in what I have talked about here that makes you realise you need to make some adjustments?
Sometimes, it’s about learning and realising these things for the first time, and other times life or bad habits creep in and we have to course correct when we notice. This is what I find happens … life changes, different things are required from you at different times and boundaries slip, life creeps and you just have to course correct again.
Tag us on facebook or instagram and share what changes you are going to aim to make as a result of listening to this episode.
Come and join us inside the wind down course and on the monthly Q&A calls, we would love to have you. You will find all the information you need in the show notes.
THANKS FOR LISTENING AND I WILL SEE YOU NEXT TIME ON THE SLEEP SEEKERS PODCAST.
DISTRACTION VS RELAXATION PODCAST EPISODE | CLICK HERE →
THE EVENING WIND DOWN PROGRAMME | CLICK HERE →
SLEEP OPTIMISER PROGRAMME | CLICK HERE →
MORE ABOUT EMMA | CLICK HERE →
WIND DOWN JOURNAL | CLICK HERE →
ALL SLEEP SEEKERS PROGRAMMES | CLICK HERE →