Can’t put your mind to sleep when it’s time to go to bed? Whether it’s keeping you from falling asleep quickly or staying asleep, there’s no doubt that an unstable mind can be a major impediment to sleep. This is one of the most common problems for people with insomnia. The problem is not just boring. According to a study published in November 2021 in the journal Comprehensive Psychiatry, pressing thoughts at bedtime, even if they are not anxious or worried, may contribute to sleep problems in people with insomnia. The researchers noted that this phenomenon is different from rumination, which is defined as obsessive, repetitive thinking that tends to focus on negative content.

It’s not for nothing that many people can’t stop thinking about things before going to bed. Whether you’re exploring a new city or just working through your usual to-do list, your brain collects new information throughout the day. Anxious thoughts and rumination can also keep you awake, of course. If you tend to wake up in the middle of the night and your mind races and won’t let you go back to sleep, it could mean that something is bothering you more than you’d like to admit or address. It is usually a sign that something stressful is going on in life.

Whether you’re stressed, excited, or just going through your day, use these tips to calm your racing mind, before thinking too much about bedtime becomes too much of a habit for you to do. end on its own.

What to do when you can’t fall asleep?

1. Ditch the devices

Sleep doctors have been telling you for years to stop using smartphones, laptops, and tablets right before bed, and for good reason. Not only does the light from electronic screens disrupt melatonin production, making sleep physiologically harder to achieve, smart devices can also increase anxiety and worry if you read stressful news on them. This habit aggravates the cycle of ruminating on embarrassing or unpleasant news. Plus, the apps, websites, and information you consume on these devices are meant (in large part) to keep you and your brain busy. To protect your sleep, turn off your devices one to two hours before bedtime, ideally, or at least 30 minutes if you can’t.

2. Schedule time for worries

Just as you plan time to see friends or get a massage, do the same with your worries. Set aside 15 to 30 minutes a day, at least one to two hours before bed, to write down your worries. Also, create at least one action that you can take to help you solve the problem. Thinking about these potential stressors earlier in the day should help reduce the amount of worry they cause when your head hits the pillow. Ideal sleep depends on creating routines and schedules, and this is no different.

3. Create a routine to put your brain to rest

Most people think that sleeping is like breathing: the body does it all by itself. It’s not true. Modern life has created so much stimulation during the day that brains now run at lightning speed, and if you don’t give yours time to rest, it will continue to run at that speed at bedtime. At least 30 minutes before bedtime, start your preparations, then do something relaxing like listening to music or reading. Stay consistent and you’ll teach your body to expect sleep after this period of relaxation.

4. Keep a gratitude list

Now that you’ve let go of your worries, replace the emptiness where those negative thoughts lived with positive ones by starting a gratitude journal. The impact of these positive thoughts is greatest when you write them down. So try spending a few minutes each night listing three to five things you’re grateful for.

5. Practice the 4-7-8 breath

You know that deep breathing can help fight stress, but it can also help you fall asleep. To sleep, your heart rate needs to slow down, and breathing techniques are one of the most effective ways to accomplish this. Try the 4-7-8 breath: inhale for a count of four, hold your breath for seven, then exhale for eight. Do this at least five to seven times to slow your heart rate.

6. Do progressive muscle relaxation

When you are lying in bed, contract and relax all your muscles one by one, starting with your toes and ending with your head. Not only is it incredibly relaxing, as the name suggests, but it also forces you to think about the physical parts of your body, which takes your focus away from the thoughts or stressors you’re fixating on.

7. Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day is one of the pillars of sleep hygiene, the guidelines that sleep doctors recommend to ensure a good night’s sleep. It also helps the mind. If you try to go to bed early, when your brain isn’t ready to sleep, it will focus on other things, which keeps the brain excited and awake.

What to do if you wake up in the middle of the night?

1. Get out of bed

As counterintuitive as it may seem, getting out of bed after about 20 minutes of worrying is the tried and true advice sleep doctors give to everyone they help and one of the key steps in treating insomnia. If you spend time in bed worrying, your brain will start associating the two and won’t be able to sleep. You will create a vicious circle for yourself, in which your bed will increasingly become a space where it will be difficult for you to sleep. Instead, get out of bed and do something soothing, like reading a book, doing chores, or journaling. As soon as you start feeling sleepy, go to bed. The goal is to increase your sleep efficiency, i.e. when you are in bed, you sleep.

2. Slow your heart rate

You may have used the 4-7-8 breathing technique or deep muscle relaxation before bed. Try them again, because your goal is not only to lower your heart rate, but also to make you forget your thoughts.

3. Write down your worries

Keep a notepad and pen by your bed to jot down any worries that come to mind. It’s not the same as a structured worry time before bed, since you’re not creating solutions; you just get your worries out of your head so your mind can rest.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.