Do you struggle to fall asleep at night? Do you find that your mind races and fills with thoughts, especially negative ones, that make dozing off impossible right away? And, after you finally fall asleep, do you often feel tired the next day regardless? If you answered yes to those questions, you need to learn ways to relax your brain and promote positive thinking to get the rest you need. Here are six ways to quiet the mind for restful sleep.
1. DON’T FOCUS ON FORCING YOURSELF TO SLEEP
Paradoxically, trying to sleep very much can lead to even greater difficulty in sleeping. If you’ve ever found yourself lying in bed and feeling more and more awake by the second as you will yourself to doze off, you’ll know exactly what this is like! This can even make your mind even noisier. Here are some ways to counteract this:
· GET OUT OF BED
If you’ve been lying in bed and trying to sleep for 20 minutes to no avail, your brain is only going to get noisier from there. So get up and go to another room and do something relaxing that doesn’t involve light exposure. For example, you may go to a dim living room and listen to some calming music, or turn on a lamp in your office and read a book. Give it a few minutes or even up to half an hour, then go and try to sleep again. Sometimes, breaking the cycle can be enough to calm the mind.
DO SOME REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY
It sounds silly, but if trying to sleep makes you wake up, sometimes trying to stay awake can help you sleep. Tell yourself you absolutely must stay awake for various reasons and feel comfortable with that potential outcome. If your brain is susceptible to paradoxical suggestions, this might lull you into a more restful state!
· DETERMINE IF YOUR BEDTIME ROUTINE IS WRONG
There’s a chance that the reason you’re not able to fall asleep is because of something unrelated to your noisy mind. For example, you may be going to bed too early, eating too close to bedtime, or sleeping in too warm of a temperature. A naturally busy mind will make it even harder to sleep under these conditions, so if all else fails, examine these factors!
2. GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO WORRY TO BE MORE RESTFUL
If you have a boisterous mind, you may need to address this during other parts of the day, long before bedtime. Anxiety and worries can make restful sleep hard to achieve at all, and that’s why you may want to pre-schedule time explicitly dedicated to worries for this purpose.
It sounds strange, but this is a standard method to handle a commonly noisy, racing mind. During this period of between five to fifteen minutes a day, you must drop everything else you are doing and focus exclusively on worrying and nothing else. You will think of every single negative emotion and concern you have and bring them to the forefront of your mind, observing them as they pass.
Then, once the time is up, all worrying must stop immediately. Any worries that come up outside of this time must be pushed aside and told to wait for their turn in the next scheduled worrying time. Once you get into the swing of this, it will come more naturally, and your nighttime worries will be delegated to a different time of day, giving you the chance to sleep.
3. GET TASKS IN ORDER FIRST
Sometimes, a noisy mind results from the knowledge of the many things you have to do. In other words, it can be a reflection of a lack of organization and control over waking life. So get your tasks in order first before you try to sleep, and preferably a few hours before bedtime.
Studies have shown that this can allow you to fall asleep faster, and the more detailed and long your to-do list when you write it, the faster your sleep will come! The sense of peace you have from knowing things are in order can be compelling. Finish your work, make to-do lists, handle chores, and plan as needed. Then put that aside and tell yourself, in positive thinking, that you have everything handled and written down for tomorrow’s perusal. Overthinkers, pay attention to this one!
4. ENGAGE YOUR EARS
Occasionally, you can quiet your mind via the engagement of one of the senses. Your ears are an ideal part of the body to engage in this manner, as your sense of hearing can dictate how relaxed you feel and how easily you fall into a more restful sleep. Here are some ways you can engage your ears:
· LISTEN TO MUSIC
Studies have found that music has positive effects on sleep quality, so turn on an excellent playlist and let it lull you into peacefulness. Just make sure you’re not picking head-banging tunes or any songs that evoke strong emotions in you, and keep the volume low instead of loud. It can help make a specific playlist for sleep, as you’ll get to curate it that way. Plus, the more often you use it, the more your brain will associate it with sleepiness.
· PLAY AN AUDIOBOOK
The wonderful world of fiction is a fantastic place to escape to so you can quiet your mind. Choose something that’s not too exciting or thrilling and let yourself get lost in fantasy worlds.
· LISTEN TO A PODCAST
Like an audiobook, a podcast can give you another world to escape to, or it can lull you to sleep with nonfiction and calming voices. Once again, you’ll want to avoid overly exciting, thrilling, or upsetting topics, and if you tend to get heated about specific issues, avoid those, too.
· USE NOISES
Sound therapy and recorded ambient sounds may help get you to sleep. Find calming sounds that you like, such as the sounds of waves or even white noise, and play them on repeat. This is especially helpful if your lack of restfulness is caused by missing a specific environment. The environment created by a little specially chosen noise can set the right tone for sleep and quiet your mind as you relax.
5. USE RELAXATION METHODS TO PROMOTE A RESTFUL NIGHT
It goes without saying that sometimes the best way to quiet the mind is to use common and scientifically-backed relaxation techniques. A little calming activity can help the brain finally chill out, bringing the necessary tranquility for sleep. Here are some common methods to try:
· THE 4-7-8 BREATHING METHOD
This technique involves a breathing exercise that can have positive effects on overall stress levels. To do it, you inhale for four counts, hold the breath for a count of seven, and then do eight counts of inhalation. This should be done a minimum of five times, and your heart will relax as your pulse slows in calmness as a result.
Meditation refers to the act of focusing on your breathing, clearing your mind, and staying present in the current moment. Find something to focus on, whether a mantra, your breathing, or even a visualization of your happy place, and keep your concentration on them. If you’re not used to it, it can be tough to sit with an empty mind, but with practice, you’ll get to reap the positive benefits of relaxation for sleep.
· TRY PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE RELAXATION
This kind of exercise involves pretty much what its title entails – you progressively relax your body’s muscles one at a time, beginning with the toes and working your way up every muscle group until you get to the top of your head. Research has found that this is good for sleep because it directs attention to your physical body instead of to any loudness of thought in your mind.
· DO SOME YOGA
It would be best if you didn’t do a complicated exercise right before bed, but some simple yoga stretches and positions can result in relaxation, according to studies. The child’s pose is all you need. This pose involves kneeling on the ground with your toes together, knees apart at hip-width.
Then, you bring your chest down towards your thighs and touch your forehead to the floor. You can also opt for the easier corpse pose, ideal for those with knee or hip pain. You need to lie on your back with your limbs relaxed, then feel yourself breathe as you sink into the floor beneath. Whichever pose you choose, remain in it for up to five minutes!
6. EXPRESS YOURSELF
If your sleeping troubles come from emotional turmoil and anxiety, expressing those feelings can be beneficial in quieting your mind. When the brain is abuzz with worries, stress, and clutter, it may be best to expel them to be more restful. Here are some ways you may try doing this:
· CALL OUT THE THOUGHTS
Don’t repress or push back what you feel. Address them directly and point them out one by one, then see what they do. Spot any irrationalities and inconsistencies and acknowledge each feeling. Then, tell them that you respect them and will reflect on them tomorrow. Some of those emotions will no longer matter to you when you wake up, and those that do will be waiting to be dealt with the following day instead of plaguing you at night.
· WRITE IN A JOURNAL
Journals are a great way to express yourself, as you know it’s a private diary that no one else would see. Even quickly scribbling on any written medium works similarly, as it helps your brain to get out its most pressing thoughts and emotions in a positive way. This may even allow you to address more severe matters productively the next day since you’ve written them down and won’t forget them!
· TALK IT OUT
If you have serious concerns, you can ask to vent to a friend or loved one, whether in person, over the phone, or via text. But you don’t have to speak to someone in particular actively! Talking to yourself, to a wall, or even to a stuffed animal lets you process your emotions out loud in a private and safe space, and it can help quiet your brain.
Many people struggle with restful sleep at night, but learning to quiet your mind can allow slumber to overtake you more quickly and with better results. If you have a lot of trouble sleeping and often wind up unable to get sufficient rest, speak to a relevant doctor for advice and assistance as you may have a sleep disorder.