Nowadays, we spend so much time online that to to take time offline may seem like a far-fetched luxury. Introducing a nightly digital detox shut-down routine into our lives can promote numerous health benefits including reduced anxiety and better sleep.
Switching off our devices can help us focus on the present moment and can even improve our creativity levels, making us more alert in the mornings. Creating a digital detox bedtime ritual does require a fair amount of discipline but once the habit has been created, you will ask yourself why you hadn’t introduced the detox into your bedtime routine before.
Here are my tips on how to switch off from the online world a few hours before bedtime to promote better sleep and to improve mental health.
1. Check your emails, texts and WhatsApp prior to switching off and reply to anything urgent. Let your closest friends and family know that you are switching offline so that they aren’t concerned if they cannot reach you. You can turn your phone to ‘night shift’ to block out harmful blue lights that affect the quality of your sleep and also to airplane mode. However, you may still be tempted to check messages this way. I find the detox even more beneficial if my phone is switched off completely and hidden out of reach in a drawer and I use a separate alarm clock.
2. Light candles. The light that is emitted from candles is warm, cosy and relaxing. Perfect for creating the right atmosphere before bed. I like to use scented candles. I buy the really large ones that last a long time.
3. Eat a sleep-promoting snack. Going to bed hungry will only prevent a good night’s sleep. Eat a protein-rich snack such as a hard boiled egg or a full fat yogurt to help stabilise your blood sugars and promote better sleep. Avoid carbohydrates and sugary snacks.
4. Drink herbal tea. Camomile tea has a calming effect and promotes sleep. I also find ginger tea a great option to switch to after dinner as it helps to calm the digestive system.
5. Limit stimulants before bed including alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine. It is a common misconception that alcohol relaxes us and promotes good sleep. It is known to disrupt sleep. If you are going to drink, drink with a meal and have a glass of water in between each beverage in order to prevent dehydration.
6. Practice some gentle yin yoga. Yin yoga calms and balances the mind and the body and is a perfect way to wind down after a stressful day. In yin yoga, the postures are held for a longer period of time and so it has a meditative effect on the body. Night-time goddess stretch is a lovely relaxing pose. Lie on your back with the soles of your feet touching in triangle shape. Hold this position for a few minutes whilst focusing on breathing deeply.
7. Have a hot, scented bath. Baths reduce stress and promote sleep helping us to wind down and switch off after a busy day.
8. Spray lavender on your pillows. Lavender has a sedative effect, it calms the nervous system, lowers the heart rate and reduces anxiety – all beneficial for promoting a decent night’s sleep.
9. Read a book before bed. It can alleviate anxiety and enhance your sleep too.
Eleanor Hosken runs Urban Temple. She worked in media agencies for 5 years and so knows first hand how to deal with stress. This was her inspiration to set up Urban Temple offering retreats and events to help clients manage and reduce their stress levels through yoga, mindfulness and nutrition. Instagram: @themindbodymethod Facebook: Urban Temple.