If you are like many of us, there are many times when, as soon as it is time for bed, your brain begins buzzing. One or more thoughts start gnawing at you and getting to bed becomes to feel like a nightmare. The thoughts then turn into worries about the next day being unproductive because you slept poorly.
Clear Your Mind for a Good Night Sleep
While there are no buttons that you can push to deactivate your thoughts at night, you can embrace the principles of good sleep hygiene, and utilize certain techniques to calm an overactive mind and get a better night’s rest.
1. Establish a pre-sleep routine
Keeping your mind active within 30 minutes of your planned bedtime makes it almost impossible for you to get a good night sleep. By establishing pre-sleep routine activities, you can ensure your body and mind have reached a relaxed state when you finally climb into bed. You may consider reading a pleasant story, doing light stretches or meditation, listening to calming music, or preparing a dark and quiet sleep space.
However, you should avoid watching television and using your phone, laptop, or tablet because these things can prompt your brain to stay active. Don’t forget that your mattress can also affect your sleep. So ensure your bed is as comfortable as possible to create an ideal environment for your slumber.
2. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise also helps to relax your whole body. It tires the body, including your mind, so you can fall asleep more quickly and sleep much better. Exercise at least three hours prior to bedtime. However, if this does not guarantee you good night sleep; try exercising much earlier in the day.
3. Busy your brain with mental exercises
Different relaxation exercises such as visualization or guided imagery can help to refocus your attention away from your thoughts and direct your imagination to gently lull you to sleep.
Use mental exercises to distract your current flow of thought. You may imagine a scene where something good is happening to you until it eventually soothes you to sleep. You can also think of yourself sinking down in a soft cloud or maybe walking into a pool of fog.
4. Take a bath – but not right before bed
Bathing helps to relax your whole body. It raises your body temperature, and when you go into your cool bedroom, the temperature lowers, leading to a decrease in metabolic activity that then causes you to feel drowsy. You can also burn scented candles, use aromatherapy bath salts or place essential oil in a diffuser or burn it. Be sure to wait about 90 minutes before hopping into bed, however, as your body needs time to cool down before you can doze off.
Body-scan meditation is a form of meditation that helps to reduce stress. All you need to do is take stock of every part of your body. Close your eyes and pay attention to how you feel as you check in with your body, moving from one part to the next, say from your neck towards your shoulders, and all the way down to your feet. You don’t need to visualize your body parts. Simply note how they feel. After taking stock of your sensations within the body, allow the information you have gathered to fade away from your awareness until you feel completely empty. Then, begin to feel your body again. The hyper-awareness you’ve gained places you in the present moment and clears your mind, reducing nighttime anxiety.
6. Breathe deeply
Deep breathing is known for its effectiveness in calming both the body and mind within a short time. Just a few minutes before bed, create an optimum sleep environment and sit upright on the floor. Close your mouth and breathe in through your nose for a count of four. Hold the breath for a count of seven, and on eight, breathe out through your mouth. Repeat this four times, and then crawl into bed.
7. Breathe in and out through your left nostril
This activity is expected to help relax your sympathetic nervous system. Using the thumb of your right hand, block your right nostril then breathe in slowly and deeply. Hold briefly and then exhale it. Do this a few times to let the tension out of your body and allow your mind to relax.
8. Get to the root of what’s stealing your sleep
If you are still trying to sleep but can’t stop thinking, take the time to think about what is causing the anxiety or restlessness. Are some of your habits interfering with your sleep? Alcohol and caffeine are the biggest sleep saboteurs. Both of them also boost anxiety. Caffeine’s effects can last from four to seven hours. Remember chocolate and many types of tea also contain significant amounts of caffeine. Certain medications can also interfere with your sleeping patterns.
The bottom line: make sleep a priority!
Sleep should be a priority in your life. Lack of it prevents your best performance and your ability to stay healthy. Use the above strategies as a guideline to clear your mind and guide your body to sleep. Remember that there is no specific formula for a good night sleep, so when you study the sleep patterns of successful people, keep in mind that what works for them may not work for you. This needs to be a part of the day that is both relaxing and enjoyable for you, the steps you take to build a sleep routine should complement your lifestyle and interests. If need be, it may be beneficial to experiment with various habits to discover what works best for your personal needs. Alternatively, you may consider talking with your doctor for help to develop the habits you need to make every night a restful night.