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How can ‘goblin mode’ affect your relaxation and sleep?

Hey sleep enthusiast, have you heard of ‘goblin mode’? The term comes from a post-pandemic-lockdown behaviour described as slobbing out and giving up’. Whilst being a revenge bedtime procrastinator sounds like a movie villain character, ‘going goblin mode’ is an anti-hero for recent times that also resonates with lots of people.

As a sleep coach, my work helps people explore their lifestyles to work out what may support and block their sleep. It’s all about taking a non-judgemental approach to understanding how the hundreds of choices made throughout the day impact a person’s ability to rest and sleep when bedtime comes.

So with people resonating with ‘going goblin mode’ as a valid option for dealing with life’s challenges, let’s see how this approach can affect relaxation and sleep!

What exactly is goblin mode?

The term was awarded the Oxford word of the year 2022, as voted for by 300,000 English-speaking members of the public across the world. This post-pandemic way of being is officially defined as: “a type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.”

How do you know when you are in goblin mode?

Signs that you may ‘gone goblin mode’ identified by the Cleveland Clinic medical website can include:

  • ‘Drinking straight out of a container instead of pouring your drink into a glass.

  • Wearing pyjamas all day long and taking a more relaxed approach to getting ready for the day.

  • Going unshowered or wearing the same outfit for a couple of days in a row.

  • Leaving your bed unmade, dropping clean clothes on the floor or letting take-out boxes pile up on the dining room table.

  • Bingeing your favourite show for hours on end.

  • Working remotely from your bed instead of your home office.’

Consider it a rebellion against typical productive and self-improving pastimes that many people embraced during the initial stages of the pandemic like baking banana bread and multi-step skincare routines.

Is goblin mode good or bad for relaxation and sleep?

The term going goblin mode is helpful in terms of providing a collective reference for people to understand the way of life they may have found themselves in. As well as feeling some comfort in knowing that others are experiencing something similar.

Goblin mode brings more options for what may be possible for creating a more restful way of being into everyday life that may have previously been frowned upon. It’s also especially helpful for people with disabilities, being able to work from home with more ease as they can even work from their beds.

As a sleep coach, I work with people to create individual lifestyles and habits that bring fulfilment and rest in ways that work for them. Each of these can look totally different, depending on a person’s needs and preferences and if going goblin mode is where a person is starting out from, or something that they choose to indulge in from time to time, I get it.

In sleep coaching conversations, I work with clients to help them to explore their routines and habits to get clarity on what may be supporting their sleep, and what may block it. With goblin mode, it may be a way to get some rest, comfort and ease, providing a break from possible stress and intensity in working days. We would also look at if there may be any needs you have that could end up being neglected by this choice - this is the courageous work where we find insights into what could be getting in the way of your drifting off to sleep with ease!

What is an example of goblin mode?

For an example of what goblin mode can look like, you can read about a former sleep coaching client’s journey through their version of goblin mode after avoiding dealing with difficult feelings after a painful break-up.

Unfortunately, whilst goblin mode may be centred around rest and ease, it is possible, and even common, to still struggle with sleep from that place. This can happen when the body is still in a stress response - like the high energy fight or flight states of activation, freeze can happen where goblin mode typically takes place for extended periods of time. And the body being in a stress response is not conducive for relaxation and sleep, despite how chilled it may look from the outside.

How does fight, flight and freeze relate to goblin mode?

Stress and anxiety disrupt our sleep as they activate the body's stress response into a high alert, ‘fight or flight’ state. This leads to hormonal changes, heightened alertness, shallow breathing, increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure and slowed digestion.

Whilst this was originally useful as a way of fighting or fleeing a life-threatening situation in prehistoric times, it’s less relevant today where most of our basic needs for safety are met. However, the nervous systems still respond in the same life-or-death way to different stresses. It’s just that these days they are more related to challenges we encounter with work deadlines, being constantly available with technology and managing competing priorities.

Many people who have busy lives and struggle with sleep experience over-stimulation and depend on this state regularly as they juggle the demands of their day. It’s totally possible to get by in this way and not realise you are actually sleep deprived - which is where being simultaneously tired and wired, aka: t’wired comes in.

So after all that fight or flight stimulation from the day, enter goblin mode! The thing is that whilst you’re enjoying some comfort, hours can easily get sunk into netflix binges on the sofa or doomscrolling the night away. Whilst the freeze state of nervous system dysregulation can provide relief in the short term, it does not actively address and resolve sources of stress. Which is why racing thoughts may pop up and seek your attention when you try to sleep, or you find yourself waking up through the night.

How do you get out of goblin mode and into relaxation for sleep?

Luckily there is a way to shift out of both goblin (freeze) mode and fight or flight mode. This comes in the form of activities that bring relaxation through inviting your body and mind into the present in the moment, widely known as mindfulness.

In my work as a sleep coach, I’ve heard all the resistance to mindfulness: from the classic mindfulness meditation being ‘boring’, to yoga nidra being ‘for hippies’. I have good news for you: it doesn’t need to take a huge time commitment or change to practice mindful activities that bring relaxation. As per the intention of getting 1% better every day from Atomic Habits, you can get creative with breaking down these exercises into something that may fit with the time available to you, as well as however long may feel comfortable. Maybe ask yourself what could you do to help your system to relax with just fifteen minutes per day?

Some examples of bringing a mindful activity to shift your state into being more relaxed can look like:

Going for a gentle, mindful stroll

The key is to stick with the intention of staying present during your walk, which can be achieved through slowing down your steps and deliberately paying attention to how each of your senses are responding. Or you could try a guided mindfulness meditation walk.

Practicing an embodiment exercise

Taking some time to bring your mind and body into alignment through simple movement-based relaxation can also be an effective part of your evening. You can try the example below out:

Breathing exercises

Taking some time to connect to your breath is a versatile habit that you can use whenever you wish to regulate your system throughout both busy days and as you are relaxing at night. You could try out the Othership App, I highly recommend this because it has many short but powerful sessions alongside the long ones.

Listening to a funny podcast

We often feel relaxed after laughing, a natural reaction that has many health benefits. As with all the activities for relaxation, it’s about being fully present in the moment - and bringing yourself back to the activity when your mind starts to wander.

Getting mindful in your evening routine

Can you get creative with making your usual tasks help you to relax…? For example: a former sleep coaching client and Mum had a schedule of putting her children to bed at 9 pm and going to sleep at 10:30 pm. She found a way to use the hour to put the toys away in a slow, gentle way; bringing gratitude to each toy and the joy it brought, knowing this childhood time would not be forever. She also dimmed the lights and added gentle music to add to the sense of ritual.

I hope those suggestions have given you some inspiration for ways to find more relaxation for sleep? As well as bringing in some understanding and acceptance of those times when you just need to go goblin mode?

If you would like to explore how you could try out small changes to break out of your goblin mode, or have any questions about your sleep struggles, you can book a free discovery call.

Stay curious,



About the author

Maša Nobilo, Sleep Coach

From first-hand insomniac to certified Embodied Facilitator with training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia, the Feldenkrais Method and Embodied Yoga Principles, Maša is well-equipped to support you on journey to restful sleep.
Learn more below.

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