The ultimate guide to winding down

In today’s class, you’ll discover Dr. Harris’ professional tips for maximising the last few hours before bed. And once you’ve mastered the art of winding down, you’ll discover smart tricks for managing tech and blue light.


Article: Create a wind-down routine

“Sleep does not have an on/off switch. We need to treat it like a dimmer switch, and to do that you need to set a stage for sleep,” advises Dr Harris. “Finding a wind-down activity that calms you down is key. See what works for you – just make sure it doesn’t rely on electronics.”


1. Schedule wind-down time

30 minutes or an hour before you want to go to sleep, you need to start relaxing. If that feels too long start with 10 minutes and work up from there.


2. Dim the lights

We need light to start our day and darkness to end it, so dim the lights for whatever winding-down method you favour.


3. Chill out activity

It’s all about finding an activity that makes you feel calm and relaxed. This could be reading a book, listening to a podcast, knitting, colouring, puzzles - whatever works for you.


4. Keep it interesting

Make sure your winding down activity is also not too boring, otherwise you’ll end up disliking it and not doing it. For example, if you love crosswords, don’t choose really hard ones so your brain is too engaged, but also don’t choose ones that are so easy you complete them too quickly.


5. Ban the tech

Your winding-down activity needs to be technology free. Ditch your Kindle for a real life book. This is not just because of the artificial light that gadgets emit, but also because it prevents you from getting distracted and mindlessly scrolling instead of focusing on relaxing.


6. Off-load your mental load

To ease some of your mental worry about what the next day might be like, prepare for it during your wind-down time. This could be writing a to-do list, laying out your outfit, or preparing your breakfast.


7. Wind down elsewhere

Do not wind down in bed. The bed is for sleep and sex only. I don’t want you spending hours in bed before you go to sleep. If you can wind down in another room then great, but a comfy chair or some meditation on the bedroom floor also works.


8. And so to bed

Once you’ve relaxed then get straight into bed, and close your eyes...


Task: Filter your computer light

“Ideally, you should turn off all screens an hour before bed. Not just because they’re major sleep stealers due to all that scrolling, but because the bright light disrupts your brain’s natural melatonin production. But if you must work late, TRY NOT TO MAKE A HABIT OUT OF DOING IT REGULARLY! And instead, get smart about your screen time...


While blue-blocking glasses are useful for some, there’s mixed data behind those, as well as filters on the phone. Instead, try the f.Lux application. It makes the colour of your computer's display adapt to the time of day, so when the sun sets, you get a warm, indoor-looking glow, while in the morning, it mimics daylight. Of course nothing beats going old-school and doing something relaxing in dim light without screens for 30-60 minutes before bed. Just do your best.”


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Shelby Harris

Shelby Harris

Dr. Shelby Harris is a Rituals Ambassador for Sleep, and a licensed clinical psychologist. With years of experience treating a wide variety of sleep disorders she uses evidence-based methods and non-pharmacological treatments to improve sleep for everyone from babies to adults. Dr. Harris currently holds a dual academic senior-level appointment as Clinical Associate Professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in both the Neurology and Psychiatry Departments. and is board certified in Behavioral Sleep Medicine (BSM) by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. She’s also the author of The Women’s Guide to Insomnia.