S1:E6 | Distraction vs Relaxation : How one supports and the other sabotages your sleep

podcast season 1 wind down wind down time
Distraction vs relaxation : How one supports and the other sabotages your sleep podcast

Do you know the difference between distraction and relaxation? And do you know the difference these two states make to your sleep? Its time to find out in this episode of the podcast.


At the moment we are in a season of talking about wind down time and how you can best use your time before bed to set you up for a great night's sleepIn todays episode i’m going to be talking about an area of wind down time where people often get it really wrong but think they are doing the right thing. We are going to talk about the difference between distraction vs relaxation before bed.

Most people tend to do the things during wind down time that distract them such as

  • Watching tv
  • Scrolling social media
  • Playing video games
  • Watching youtube
  • Listening to the radio 

Just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with some of these things, necessarily, if you find them relaxing. Some I would have issue with, but that is for another podcast another day.

However, such a lot of people do these things, thinking that they are doing the right thing and winding down before bed, not working, not emailing etc, but actually these things are only serving as a distraction and doing nothing for wind down at all.

Some people will even put the TV or the radio on and use it to fall asleep to, or will scroll on social media until they feel ‘sleepy enough’, then put it down and go to sleep. For many people this works (sort of) in that it achieves the aim of getting them to sleep.

But, what is really going on here is distraction.

You are distracting your mind away from the day, you are distracting yourself from the thoughts, worries, anxieties, to do list etc, I think of this like temporarily stepping off the treadmill. You know when you see someone on a treadmill and they are really going for it, running really fast and then when they reach the end of the sprint time, rather than slow the treadmill down to have their rest time, they just jump off and put their feet on the plastic bits either side of the belt, rest and then just hop back on again when they are ready for the next sprint?

That’s what's going on when you distract in your wind down time rather than relax.

Your mind is busy in the day - could be due to being busy but equally could be anxieties, worries, memories, things you don't want to think about etc.

Some people will describe themselves as being someone whose mind never switches off.

There are so many different reasons for the same issue.

When it comes to night time, rather than slowing down the mind before bed, you just hop out for a while. You find ways to distract your mind so you don’t think, or don’t feel. It makes it much easier to get to sleep. But the problem is that this will show itself in your sleep. You might get to sleep fine but you might wake after only a few hours. Often feeling wide awake or like your mind is busy immediately.

Or the quality of your sleep will suffer, perhaps not hitting good deep sleep or perhaps being stressed out in your sleep, keeping you on the surface.

Essentially, during the night, you’ve hopped back on the treadmill when the distraction isn't there to work anymore.

Basically, when you distract rather than relax in your wind down time, your body chemistry isn’t aligned with good sleep, so your sleep will suffer.

When you achieve relaxation before sleep, your body chemistry aligns with sleep and sleep is better in quantity and quality. So, it’s really important to move away from distraction before bed and work instead on aligning yourself with sleep in a way that supports you.

Achieving relaxation during your wind down time is a skill and also a habit. If you want to learn more about how to intentionally create an evening wind down routine that works for you, I created the evening wind down routine course to walk you through every component on how to prepare your mind and body for great sleep.

My aim is to help you get to a place where you don’t need to rely on distraction and instead you are confident in your routines to get you a good night's sleep.

So, have a good look at what you do before bed and ask yourself - is this distraction or relaxation?

I hope to see you inside the evening wind down routine course.