One of the best lifestyle hacks I’ve implemented over the past two years is to slow things wayyy down after sunset. Friends joke that I’m an old granny, or even Amish, because we abstain from anything super stimulating at night- no netflix, no music, no bright lights or phones. We even avoid “date nights” or staying out late with friends, choosing instead to socialize during daylight hours. My husband is the one who encouraged these changes. I fought him on it at first because I didn’t believe him. My 80 year old mother in law has more of a night life than I do, and I wonder sometimes if that makes me a loser? But my “boring” evenings have become soothing to my soul. I’m able to give my body and mind a break from noise, light, technology, and social interactions. As someone who struggles with burnout and anxiety, these quiet nights are my medicine.
Picture this: On a typical evening after the kids have been lullabied and tucked in, you’ll find us:
- In our living room with the lights off (Joe actually turns off most of the electricity after dark.).
- Our phones are on airplane mode or tucked into their radiation blocking wire mesh cages.
- We have several salt lamps on, because they give off a soothing amber glow, as opposed to standard lights which give off blue light. Blue light is highly stimulating and can mess with circadian rhythms, hormones, sleep and health in general (If, unlike me, you crave details and want to know the physics behind this idea of blue light, check out this blog post).
- We’re wearing red head lamps because red light does not interrupt melatonin production. Joe is probably wearing orange glasses to block any traces of blue lights from his eyes, which makes him look like a Bono wannabe. I haven’t embraced the glasses yet because I’m way too vain.
- I’m sipping herbal tea. The fireplace is crackling. Joe is giving our dog Basil a much-needed massage. She’s a highly sensitive dog.
- We’re reading, or maybe I’m doing some light yoga, or embroidering a little gift for a friend.
- While I’m embroidering, we might turn on a podcast to listen to together, and then chat about it afterward. Our favorite podcasts to listen to together are Radical Personal Finance and a theology podcast called the Glory Cloud Podcast. I’m planning on listening to Missing Richard Simmons next. Even podcasts can be a little too stimulating for me at night, so we often choose to read instead.
- I’m a non-fiction lover, but I read fiction at night to calm my brain down. My typical bedtime books are chick lit (Jojo Moyes, Liane Moriarty, Barbara Kingsolver, and Mona Simpson are some of my go-tos).
I usually tuck myself in before 10pm, and sleep for a good 9 hours. I’ve mentioned before that HSPs need more sleep! I wake up refreshed and ready to run my little household. Ready to face the noise, the lights, and the demands of modern life because I know I’ll get a respite from it all when the sun goes down.
I know this seems extreme, but for most of human history before electricity, people used to be forced to relax at night and get tons of sleep. We’re not weird, we’re just retro.
How do you mellow out after a long day?