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How To Be Present and Wind Down At Night

Most of us don’t skip a beat when it comes to looking at our digital screens. From the moment we rise with the sun, until seconds before we fall into a slumber under the moon, it’s trickier than ever to successfully be present and shut off our brains. If I’m being honest, I am 100% one of those people. I can’t run a mile, but I’m convinced my thoughts could run laps with the best of them and win an Olympic gold medal. I could be cashed out physically and my thoughts would still be jumping on the bed next to me screaming and persistently asking, “what’s next?”

If your brain likes to talk just like mine, it’s okay, we’re not alone. According to the National Sleep Foundation research, almost 50 percent of Americans have trouble falling and staying asleep at least once a week, and I have a feeling it’s actually more than 50. We’re all so connected, but fall so short at being present. We’re all over the digital world, but absent in the real one. How bonkers that these digital screens have our brains so fired up that we can’t do the one thing our 12 year old selves did so well – sleep.

Even with running thoughts that seem far stronger than I am most days, and even with an addiction to my cell phone that is sickening, I found ways through the madness to quiet my noggin (that’s too loud for it’s own good). Here are 5 tips that allow me to be present (and jump for joy) by winding down in the PM, and I’m hoping they can help you too:

1. Power down all electronics 30 minutes before bed. Just do it.

Laptop and smartphone screens are not relaxing for your eyes, that’s actually a fact. Working remote and being self-employed, I make it a point to wrap up all work, communication on my phone and computer at 8. If you just can’t kick the habit at a certain time of night, try to at least go electronic-less 30 minutes before you plan to go to sleep.

With a mind that jumps at any opportunity to worry and trophies to prove it, I also try not to do or discuss anything that might stress me out. So to be safe and keep quiet, literally, I get ready for bed, tidy up the clutter, and spend quality time with my dog and the human the makes my soul swoon. I’d call that a win-win!

2. Focus on your breath

Concentrating on your breath is an effective way to stop a busy mind, a stressed out mind, a confused mind, you get the point. But this technique also relaxes me when I’m trying to fall into a slumber.

I will tell you this can seem a little goofy at first, but try spending a few minutes focusing on your breath every night (or in any tense situation really). Any time you notice it your attention wandering, bring it back to your breath. It may help to count the seconds in your inhales and exhales. To get the most from this relaxation technique, make your exhales twice as long as your inhales. Kind of weird, I know. But from one loud mind to another, please try it.

3. Brew herbal/Sleepy Time tea

Caffeine-free tea is what dreams are made of, or at least, mine are considering I wouldn’t have any dreams or sleep if it wasn’t for sleepy time tea. The Chamomile flower is powerful in it’s calming effects. Brew a pot an hour or so before bedtime to calm your racing nerves and mind. Hat tip: Always add honey.

4. Take a warm bath

There are three things I am exceptionally good at: overthinking things, bad knock knock jokes, and taking bubble baths. A hot bath at the end of the day not only relaxes your muscles, but it raises your core body temperature, which science says can help you rest easier. If you’re not a ‘soak in your own filth’ type, a steamy shower will also suffice.

5. Don’t force anything

If you have tried all of these things and still haven’t fallen asleep 30 minutes after laying down, the best thing to do is often give up trying to fall asleep. Get up, move to another part of your apartment, and read or do something else relaxing until exhaustion hits you. As soon as it does, scurry back to bed.

Written By Jamie Fleetwood

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Jamie is a Midwest transplant currently living in Denver, Colorado. She is a writer, creator, and entrepreneur who enjoys road trips, photography, and getting lost. She encourages others to live life their own way by sharing the nomadic pitstops of her life through photos and words from the heart.

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