The body may feel tired, but the mind continues to race when the lights go out and you’re lying in bed. This can be very annoying, as the only thing you want in that moment is to close your eyes and doze off. A restless mind can be a serious obstacle that gets in the way of a good night’s sleep. How do you shut it down without resorting to unhealthy behaviors? This article aims to highlight several helpful strategies.
Despite what you may think, your inability to fall asleep may not be due to insomnia. Racing thoughts can keep you up at night, but a mind that runs as steady as a refrigerator could also indicate other complications. Often times, stress or anxiety from a day of worrying can cause the mind to idle, but in a restless state. One person may have a stream of creative ideas, while another person may lay awake because of medications.
Why Won’t The Brain Shut Off?
It’s an annoying problem that leads to insufficient sleep. Failure to hit the snooze button on the brain can increase the risk of anxiety, depression, and even cardiovascular disease. The reason that most people cannot shut off their brains is because bedtime is often the first moment of true silence. Upon climbing into bed, you face the quiet, which is daunting to a lot of people. The information, worries, thoughts, and everything else from the day attacks you at warp speed.
Perhaps you are able to get to sleep, but you wake up in the middle of the night and your racing mind won’t let you go back to bed. Something more serious may be bothering you, and it’s important to confront it if you want to get your sleep under control. Whether stress, excitement, anxiety, or something else is to blame, the following bedtime habits may help shut off your brain and lead to better sleep.
Create A Power Down Routine
One of the biggest misconceptions is that the body will just naturally power down when you want it to. This is not true, especially with the incredible amount of stimulation you experience on a daily basis. The brain needs time to rest and power down, otherwise it’ll keep moving at the same rate it does throughout the day. At least one hour before you go to bed, start preparing for sleep. Consider reading a book or listening to guided meditation or relaxing music. Whatever you do, keep it consistent and you’ll help train your body to expect sleep after that relaxation routine.
Experiment With ASMR
Some people despise autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), while others find it incredibly calming. ASMR is a pleasant, tingly feeling that some people experience as a response to certain stimuli. There are many ASMR videos or audio recordings that may calm the mind. Many of the sounds include tapping, whispers, rustling sounds, or even quiet reading. Try experimenting with this technique while you’re in bed and see if it helps you fall asleep.
Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This is a relaxation technique that aims to help you release all tension from the body. While lying in bed, tense and then immediately relax all of your muscles one by one. Start at your toes and work your way up to your head. Progressive muscle relaxation forces you to think about the physical parts of your body that you tense and then relax. Instead of focusing on why you ate a sandwich instead of a big salad, you direct your focus toward the action. Many people find that this helps to dramatically reduce stress.
Focus On Breathing
One of the most efficient ways to quiet the mind is to direct your attention to your breath. Simple breathing exercises may help slow the heart rate, which benefits people who are anxious or worked up. Diaphragmatic breathing is a great option while lying in bed. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Breathe in through the nose for two seconds and feel your belly expand. Gently push on your belly as you exhale slowly. Continue to repeat until you relax.
Ditch Your Devices
It’s very difficult to steer clear of electronic devices these days. Sleep doctors constantly tell people to ditch smartphones, laptops, tablets, and TVs before bed for a reason. The blue light from screens interferes with melatonin production, making it more difficult to fall asleep. The brain cannot handle all the information it receives from apps, games, news, and more, causing a flurry of thoughts and emotions. Screens are designed to capture attention, so spending more time in front of them can disrupt sleep.