Skip to main content

How I Write and Learn

In this blog series, “Ask a Coach!” our Writing and Learning Center coaches answer our UNC-CH undergrads’ burning questions! Check back every month to see what our coaches have to say about everything from taking breaks to utilizing office hours! 

How do I turn off my brain at night?

Learning Coach Tony stands with his thumbs up in a frame that says "How I Write and Learn Blog" Tony - History PhD Student Record Collector Extraordinaire." The frame has a blue background with yellow and red dashesTony: How do I turn my brain off at night?– I try planning out my day in a way that leaves me some decompression time in the evening. I take a walk, make dinner, or do something unrelated to my work that I enjoy. Sometimes the best things to do are the things that relax you rather than overstimulate you. By doing this, you may be able to enjoy a less-stressful evening where you are able to reward yourself as opposed to stressing late into the night.


Learning Coach Aidan stands with his thumbs up in a frame that says "Aidan - Philosophy & Economics Plays the Mandolin" The frame has a blue background with yellow and red dashesAidan: I would try to observe what your brain is actually doing without identifying with it, like is often done in meditation. Just watch the thoughts come and go. I’ve also had some success with following a breathing pattern, like 4-7-8 (four seconds in, seven seconds hold, eight seconds exhale). Lastly, try going outside in the morning when you wake up to get some daylight in your eyes (though don’t stare at the sun, obviously). Five minutes is usually enough. This will help shift your circadian rhythm to be awake in the morning and sleepy at night when you’re trying to turn off your brain.


Learning Coach Michael stands with his thumbs up in a frame that says "Michael - School of Edu PhD student I've watched indoor skiing (in-person) while dining at a cheesecake factory” The frame has a blue background with yellow and red dashesMichael: I try not to engage social media before bed, and I’ll typically try to read a non-academic book (fantasy, historical fiction, sci-fi, etc.). Aside from that, complete darkness and earplugs make sure that my brain knows it’s time to wind down and no random sounds are breaking me out of that rhythm. 




Sydney stands with her hands crossed in a frame that says How I write and Learn Blog. Below the text reads "Sydney - Undergraduate Writing Coach - I've totaled two mini coopers and I love black espresso"

Sydney: This is something I struggle with all the time. It helps me to plan out the next day before I go to bed – what homework will I do? What meetings do I have? Is there anything out of the ordinary that I need to plan for? Having these things written in my planner keeps me from feeling like I need to remember all the details all the time.  As I transition to bed, I try to think about things other than school. If I’m feeling particularly anxious, asking myself questions helps to calm me down. I might ask questions like, “What is your favorite book about?” or “What is something you want for Christmas?”  It might sound silly, but asking myself questions keeps me from worrying about school!

This blog showcases the perspectives of UNC Chapel Hill community members learning and writing online. If you want to talk to a Writing and Learning Center coach about implementing strategies described in the blog, make an appointment with a writing coach, a peer tutor, or an academic coach today. Have an idea for a blog post about how you are learning and writing remotely? Contact us here.

Comments are closed.