How often does this happen to you? You work hard all day, just waiting to get home so you can relax a bit and then go to bed … only to find that when you get there, your brain is still going a million miles an hour and it’s impossible to switch off. What should be a period of rest becomes a staring contest between you and the clock on your phone as you worry about the day ahead.
This is incredibly common among Heads — but it leaves you exhausted, miserable, and unable to do much of anything. And this isn’t just a mental thing: studies show that sleep deprivation, even if it’s just a few hours, causes a similar biological effect on the body as being drunk.
You’d never go to school drunk … but going sleep-deprived isn’t much better!
So what can you do to quiet your mind so that you can get the rest you need? It may surprise you, but the first step happens hours before you even try to go to sleep.
Plan your transition
When you go to school in the morning, you “armour up” so that you can get through the day. If you don’t consciously take that armour off when you transition into your home time, your mind will often stay stuck in work mode, making it hard to relax and impossible to sleep well.
So the first thing to do is to plan a period of transition from school to home. Don’t wait until you get home to start decompressing; make it a habit to start transitioning the second you start for home. Ask yourself, “Who is it that’s going to enter into this home? What kinds of things does this person do?” Simply bringing awareness to how you want to be can be incredibly helpful.
Take care of your body
If you have loads of tension or energy built up from meeting the demands of your role, you may need to physically tire yourself out so that you can sleep better. This doesn’t mean that you have to go on arduous runs or hit the gym the second you’re out of school. It just means to move in a way that gets your heart rate up a bit, and that you enjoy. If nothing else, try to find something that you can laugh at — the endorphins released when you laugh are incredible stress relievers!
Have a screen curfew
This is one of the best things you can do for your sleep, but one of the hardest to stick with in a time when two thirds of people sleep with their phones in or just beside their beds. It’s the curse of connection — since it’s theoretically possible to contact you at any time, you start to feel like you should be available at any time, but this is simply not true. On top of availability anxiety, the light from screens fefects the production of melatonin, the hormone you need to sleep, so make sure that you turn off your screens or put them out of your bedroom for at least an hour before you’re planning to sleep.
All very doable — and all of which will have a huge impact on your health and performance, so give them a try!
Are you a school leader who’s looking to reclaim your off hours? We’re here to help! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0208 767 7664 to set up a short, no strings conversation.
I’d love to know … what are your best tips for quieting your mind at night? Tell us in the comments below!
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