How to Find Your Brain Off Switch

How to Find Your Brain Off Switch

These days we sleep less, work more and are available 24/7. Now, the author of a new book explains how we can retrain our brains to relax after work, on the commute and at bedtime.

By India Sturgis (The Telegraph)

7:05AM BST 04 Jul 2015

Is a glass of wine the only way you can unwind after a day at work? When you go to bed, is your mind wrung dry yet still racing like a steam engine? And when you get to sleep, do work thoughts wake you in the night?

We are in the midst of an overwork epidemic. Mobile devices were meant to free us from the office, but technology has left the 9-5 long dead and left us mentally tethered to our desk, 24/7, instead.

A recent study of 3,000 UK workers showed that 69 per cent are regularly required to work outside of their official hours. Oxford scientists claim we now get between one and two hours’ less sleep than we did 60 years ago. Research by Microsoft suggested that the internet age has left humans with attention spans even shorter than that of goldfish.

While the old adage has it that “hard work never killed anybody”, a growing body of research begs to differ. India Sturgis

“Inadequate psychological recovery, or poor disengagement from work, is associated with a range of health problems including cardiovascular disease, fatigue, negative mood and sleep disturbance,” he explains, citing a study that found men who were unable to mentally relax after work had a threefold increase risk of heart disease. The Japanese even have a name for it: karōshi, or “death from overwork”.

“Technology is a large part of the problem. Mobile communication has increased tenfold over the last two decades. It is a double-edged sword. Our lives are incessantly bombarded and interrupted by emails, texts and phone calls – much of it unnecessary – keeping us plugged in and unable to relax. The economic climate is equally at fault. We all feel less secure in our jobs, so work harder.”

But into this perfect storm of muddled minds and soaring stress levels, Prof Cropley is keen to inject some calm – for which he has attracted plaudits from no less a figure than the internet media icon, Arianna Huffington. In his new book, The Off-Switch, Prof Cropley outlines an arsenal of techniques that could reduce the amount of time it takes us to unwind in the evening – which is, on average, between 30 and 90 minutes – by half.

Here’s how to retrain your brain to switch-off, at your own speed.

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