When lying down at night after a long day, it’s the only time there is peace and quiet with no interruptions or distractions to interfere with thought processes, and generally, the brain takes advantage of those prime hours.
Anything that didn’t get careful consideration, a proper decision, or enough fret and worry comes to the forefront of the mind, along with lists of things that need to be taken care of well into the future and regret over something that didn’t get handled from long ago.
These are not calm, rational ideas that go leisurely through the brain as we start to doze off. The mind is racing with that entire bunch of “data” in a jumble, keeping us awake until the wee hours, leaving us exhausted into the next day when we become burdened with new material that can keep us entertained as we strive for sleep yet again when bedtime comes around.
An unsettled mind is a common cause of insomnia or interrupted sleep for many people. Whether you are stressed about certain life issues or excited about upcoming events, or merely replaying the day’s activities, it’s crucial to find a way to break the cycle of letting thoughts interrupt your sleep before it becomes habitual.
Tips for coping with thoughts while trying to sleep
Hectic schedules keep people moving day in and day out throughout each week with little time to take a breath, let alone have a moment to think. Still, when there are decisions to be made or things to consider, we usually say let me think about it and get back to you.
When will you have the free time between your career, family, taking care of the household, pets, and extracurricular activities? The only time left is when you lie down to go to sleep.
The problem is that if you get into the habit of allowing your thoughts to disrupt your sleep, the exhaustion will interfere with your daily living activities until your general health starts to suffer. How can you control the thoughts from interrupting your sleep with everyday life issues? Let’s look at a few tips that might help you have a more peaceful night.
Put the devices to bed early
The suggestion has been put out there by sleep specialists for a while that electronic devices need to be put away before you go to bed. It is said that melatonin production is affected by the light from these screens, making it much more challenging to fall asleep.
Further, suppose you tend to read the news or perhaps other unpleasantries before shutting down. In that case, it can lead to an increase in anxiety and fret with a tendency to lie awake ruminating over the information you just consumed.
Ideally, the mobile and all other devices should be put to bed roughly two hours before bedtime. That gives you time to relax your body and mind before settling in for slumber.
It would be best if you also kept the charging station in a space other than the bedroom so you’re not tempted to pick the phone up in the middle of the night. That can lead to not going back to sleep and an exhaustive day following.
When you make an itinerary for activities and stick to it, it will alleviate your mind from feeling like it needs to take care of that business later, like when you want to go to sleep. That includes worrying, fretting, and stressing. Set aside roughly half an hour each day for “worry journaling.”
During this period, you’ll jot down the things that are bothering you and different ways you might be able to resolve the situations. When you feel there might be a solution for the stress, you’ll have greater peace of mind allowing relaxation when you lie down instead of tension.
Train your brain
With the modern-day lifestyle, the brain is overstimulated. The stimulation is not something that will just stop at the end of the day because you say it’s time to calm down and go to sleep. As you would with any other sort of routine, you need to establish a ritual of destimulation of the brain before it’s time to lie down, a soothing regimen.
That can consist of anything that brings you a sense of calm, whether listening to soft music, enjoying a warm bath, meditating, anything that gets the mind back down to the present, and a sense of peace. It can be simply a matter of 20 to 30 minutes before bedtime but should be consistent each day, so the body begins to expect that sleep will come after this ritual.
The consensus is that deep breathing is a solution for stress, calms the body, and can help with sleep patterns. For the body to be able to go to sleep, the heart rate has to slow down. Practicing deep breathing exercises boasts among the most effective methods for accomplishing rest.
In research, one of the suggested exercises noted to be affected references as the (quote) “4-7-8 breath; inhale for a four-count, hold the breath for a seven-count, and blow out for an eight count.” (end quote) Your heart rate will steadily slow after repeating these steps roughly 5 or 6 times.
If you have an erratic schedule, the brain will have a tough time trying to adjust to any sort of sleep schedule. Depending on the times you work, try to develop an established bedtime that can be consistent every day. The only challenge will be if you’re on shift work, which can prove somewhat tricky to be regimented.
Otherwise, it’s recommended that you go to bed at the same time every night and wake up each morning at the same hour. Typically, if you attempt to go to bed at an off-hour when the mind is not ready, it will automatically wander into a range of thoughts because it knows it’s not time yet.
The same is true if you go to bed much later than usual; you’re simply too tired to fall asleep.
It might sound counterproductive, but when you’re lying in bed tossing and turning with thoughts racing through your mind, the brain begins to recognize this as the time it can ruminate, worry, think, and it becomes habitual.
Instead of allowing yourself to associate bedtime with stress, when this is happening, get up from the bed and engage in an activity that will either relax or tire you.
Perhaps some light chores need to be taken care of to burn some stress. Maybe you can focus on reading for a while in a favorite chair or pull out the journal and write down precisely what you’re fretting over at that very moment.
You can list things you might be able to do in your wake hours to resolve the situations, so the stress and tension do not continually disrupt your sleep.
These should not be overly stimulating activities but things that will help relax and calm the brain so you can fall off to sleep when you lie back down.
What can you do if you wake up to racing thoughts in the middle of the night
Sometimes falling asleep comes relatively quickly but staying asleep is the issue, almost like a thought comes and startles you awake in the middle of the night, and then you can’t get back to sleep.
Often this is when people will either turn on the television for a few minutes or reach for their mobile. But the suggestion is doing either is the culprit in why you can’t doze back off.
Because these screens disrupt melatonin production, they’re actually stimulating the brain and making you more awake than helping to soothe you back to sleep.
The best activity to engage in when something startles you awake is reading a book (a real, genuine hardcover or paperback book with pages) with a glass of milk or writing.
You can write anything you like, but the suggestion is to write what’s bothering you to relieve its stress. Either activity, reading or writing, is both calming and relaxing for the brain, helping to soothe it back down to a point where it can once again rest.
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The modern world is one of chaos for the average person on a daily basis. Schedules are outrageous, virtually impossible to keep, what with work, home, school, family, extracurricular activities, and on. There’s not enough time in one day.
It makes sense that the brain would be overly stimulated and require time to calm down at the end of one of these days. Everyone must take a moment to self-soothe and nurture each day, at least for a while, before heading off to bed. Doing so will bring great peace of mind so that when you do lie down, you can genuinely relax and rest.