Modern society is becoming increasingly reliant on technological devices. While many of the technological advancements of the last decade or so have arguably changed life for the better for many, new technology also presents a host of new issues.
Screen addiction, constant notifications that can cause anxiety, and the way social media can make us feel insecure and isolated even though it’s supposed to connect us are just a few of the downsides of technology that we have started to notice over time, and that we have to be aware of. These factors don’t mean we shouldn’t engage with new technologies, but instead that we just have to be a lot more mindful of how we engage with them.
One area where many people would benefit from being more mindful about technology is before bedtime. You likely know the benefits of unplugging before bedtime, but powering down our devices and detaching from the stress of the day can be easier said than done. It can be a challenge to calm racing thoughts or stop planning how you’ll tackle your upcoming stressful day.
Thankfully, several research-backed methods help you slow down and prepare for sleep. Here are seven ways to calm your mind and get better rest.
- Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
Aim to get ready for bed at the same time every night. Wind down from a stressful day by taking a warm shower. Consider listening to soothing music while applying essential oils to pressure points and moving through simple yoga poses to further your relaxation. Next, move into bed and read a book until you start to drift to sleep. Try to go to bed and wake at the same time every day, even on the weekends.
Consider these additional factors when making your room the perfect environment for rest. Ensure your bedroom temperature isn’t too hot or cold — the ideal temperature for sleep is between 66 and 70 F. Get blackout curtains or eyeshades to keep the sunshine out of your room. Try a white noise machine or fan to limit noises in your home that interrupt your rest.
- Turn Off Your Phone
One of the best ways to help you prepare for rest is to turn off your phone. The high-energy blue light in digital screens can cause interruptions to your sleep patterns and suppress melatonin secretion. You could find it more difficult to unwind or rest if you use a blue light device too close to bedtime. However, 71% of Americans report using their phones until they fall asleep.
Studies recommend avoiding blue light two to three hours before bedtime to keep your circadian rhythms in sync. Consider blue light suppressing glasses if you need to use a device to work. You can also apply an app on your phone or tablet to filter out damaging blue light. However, the best practice is to sleep with your phone charging outside your room.
- Use Meditation Techniques
If you find your head spinning with thoughts as you lay in bed, you might soon begin glancing at your watch as your anxiety starts to rise. You can stop those thoughts in their tracks with helpful mindfulness and breathing techniques.
- Progressive muscle relaxation: Use this mindfulness technique to activate each area of your body and eliminate the stress you’re carrying. You’ll progressively tense and relax each muscle group, relaxing into sweet slumber.
- 4-7-8 breathing technique: To practice this breathing activity, inhale for four counts. Hold your breath for seven seconds. Then, exhale through your nose for eight counts. Repeat this technique to steady your breathing and lull you into deep relaxation.
- Yogic breathing: The practice of pranayama or yogic breathing has been proven to slow one’s breathing, blood pressure and heart rate. Practicing it for five minutes can prepare you for sleep.
- Exercise More
Consider adding exercise into your daily routine. Whether you bike, run or walk, research suggests there’s a positive relationship between exercise and sleep. You’ll find it easier to unwind and fall asleep the more regularly you work out. However, because physical activity is stimulating, it’s best to exercise earlier in the day and at least three hours before bedtime.
- Make a List
If you find you have a lot on your mind and are having difficulty shifting your thoughts from the stresses of tomorrow, consider making a list to organize the coming day. Write down all the things you’ll need to accomplish, outlining the necessary tasks at work and home. A study conducted in 2018 found participants who created to-do lists for their upcoming days fell asleep faster than those who didn’t.
- Disconnect From Work
Make an effort to create boundaries between you and your job. Do not check your work email in the evening or only do so once for half an hour after dinner. Put this plan into effect by turning off your notifications when you get home and resisting the urge to check them. Consider turning your phone off and putting it away if you think you’ll be tempted to do it. Remember, the boundaries are to help you unplug and unwind.
- Limit Social Media
Another great way to feel more relaxed and ready for bed is to limit your social media use. The easiest way to restrict it is to turn your phone off an hour before bed. This might not be an option if you use your cellphone for other purposes like an e-reader or a white noise machine.
Try scheduling your social media time to an hour a day. That way, you don’t waste time mindlessly scrolling. Another great option is to limit your platforms to a couple of sites rather than all of them. You’ll be happy you don’t have to keep up with all the notifications.
Follow These Steps to Detach
Following these tips will give you the best opportunity to get quality rest. Utilize mindfulness and breathing techniques to relax and unwind if you find it challenging to unplug. You’ll be entering dreamland in no time.