How to switch off at the end of the day
In this day and age, it is really rather hard to switch off! A lot of this comes down to our “always on” culture and constantly being reminded of what work we have to do or what email we haven’t responded to. We are now endlessly contactable because of our mobile devices. Back in the day, you could leave your work at the office, keeping it within scheduled work hours. No one could really contact you outside of those hours, you didn’t always have access to email. Now, however, your office is essentially teleported around in your pocket on a mini computer that never leaves your hand. Channels traditionally reserved for personal communications are often used by clients or your colleagues to “check in” or “follow up” on their email to “make sure” you’ve seen it. There is no escape! Even more dangerous when you have the blue ticks set on your whatsapp… there’s no hiding.
This has been further accentuated by a global lockdown where working from home had to become the norm. Whilst in many ways, this has greatly improved things by perhaps removing a gruesome commute, allowing you to set your alarm for later, work boundaries have been pushed even further. Now, the line between work / life is much more blurred when your home is also the office.
Then on top of all that, let’s not forget the big fat elephant in the room - social media. The majority of us, through no fault of our own but due to how these apps are designed, are social media addicts! When we aren’t working, we are still glued to our screens feeling bad about ourselves as we go down various rabbit holes comparing and despairing over who we are, what we look like and what we have (haven’t) done with our lives.
All is to say, it’s no wonder why we find it hard to switch off at the end of the day (or to even disconnect at all!) and can’t easily drift off. There is a lot going on and, especially now, a lot more to worry about with all this uncertainty.
The good news, many companies or just individuals themselves are focusing more on the work / life balance and realising there needs to be a recalibration. Of course we all have financial pressures, but life is too short for us all to live to work, we must work to live! Do enough to afford us the freedoms to have a good lifestyle within our means.
This means we must instil boundaries and carve out time that is for ourselves. We must try to break this always on cycle, giving ourselves a bit of a digital detox before the end of the day and truly logging off. It’s widely discussed that screen time before bed affects your sleep and makes it hard to fall asleep. Here’s why:
- The phone has left your brain stimulated and overly excited making you not ready for bed.
- The light from the phone suppresses melatonin - the hormone responsible for controlling your sleep / wake cycle 
- The blue light from our phones mimic daylight - making you feel more active and alert, but more importantly, this can “affect your can affect your internal body clock and throw off your circadian rhythm” in tune with light and dark  
- Waiting for something to happen on your phone or having just seen something that makes you excited or anxious delays you falling asleep which delays your REM sleep 
So when your working day ends, if you can, make a point not to open up your email until the next day. Of course, there are days we all have crucial deadlines, but more often than not, the world will still turn without you refreshing your inbox and responding immediately (you may even say the wrong thing in your haste!). Here are some of our tips:
- Turn off new email notifications after working hours so they don’t pop up in the evening
- Put your phone in another room or out of view for bed
- I need my alarm from my phone, I hear you say! Try investing in an old school alarm clock instead? OR, if you really insist on having your phone set your phone to night mode to mute all alerts and notifications (anything really important will make it through as if someone calls you more once you will be notified)
- Give yourself a digital detox for as long as you can before bed - read, meditate, do something that doesn’t involve a screen before you hit the pillow (this includes Netflix!)
Additional reading / references:
Bigger, Brighter, Bluer-Better? Current light-emitting devices – adverse sleep properties and preventative strategies: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2015.00233/full
Exposure to Room Light before Bedtime Suppresses Melatonin Onset and Shortens Melatonin Duration in Humans. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/96/3/E463/2597236
Science news for students: Evening Screen Time can sabotage sleep: https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/evening-screen-time-can-sabotage-sleep
Evening light exposure to computer screens disrupts human sleep, biological rhythms, and attention abilities: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07420528.2017.1324878