If you are among the people that hate bedtimes because of your brain refusing to shut off, you are not alone. I have been in the same predicament since some years back – the effort I used to make just to fall asleep made my bedtimes seem like nightmares and left me exhausted when I woke up in the morning. Sometimes, you may want to tuck yourself in bed because you are very tired, but a thought or two pops up suddenly and begins gnawing at you, leaving you frustrated.
If you are searching for a quick solution though, you will be disappointed to find out there is none. There is no specific thing you can do to push aside any thoughts before going to bed, but you can create the right environment to foster better sleep. It is not just about sleeping on a plush helix mattress (although that can help), there are other ways to quiet your racing mind and help you sleep better. Here are eight of these methods.
Knowing that sleep is important
The busy lifestyles that we live in today make us feel like we are wasting our time when we sleep, and we would rather be awake doing something substantial. Well, the truth is far from that, because a lack of proper sleep can actually lead to many health problems later on.
Lack of proper sleep leads to mental and physical issues, including depression and anxiety. When your body is tired, you feel as though you lack sufficient energy, and you become unproductive, while also increasing your risk of developing hypertension, diabetes, and strokes.
Developing a regular sleep schedule
The problem of today’s fast-paced lifestyle is that it leaves you permanently tired, but you find it so difficult to develop a sleep routine. However, getting a proper routine is part of disciplining yourself, because it will force you to work within certain hours and not exceed in the name of extra work output.
The greatest benefit of having a set routine is your body developing sync with your internal clock, or circadian rhythm, and this will go a long way in helping you sleep better. That brings us to:
Creating a routine for pre-sleep
Before tucking yourself in your blankets, it is even more important to have a winding down routine to help your sleep get on track. This will help your body to associate certain activities with sleep, and slow down its activities.
These routines may include listening to calm songs, doing some relaxation exercises and stretching. If you are watching TV, turning on the news is a no-no – you are better off watching a relaxing program instead. This will relax your mind and prepare it to sleep.
Jot down your worries earlier in the day
Part of teaching your mind to relax is eliminating the things that are worrying you, so you can do this at an earlier time as well as how you intend to solve those issues. These can also include the worries that pop in your mind when you are tossing and turning in bed at night.
Assuring yourself that you are dealing with it or have dealt with it will help in creating a sense of release, as your mind learns to separate your thoughts from your sleep.
Using the bed only for intimacy and sleeping
Part of teaching your mind to sleep better is creating an association that your bed is primarily for sleeping. Doctors even explain that you should avoid doing other activities in bed, such as reading. You can do these in your bedroom, but avoid doing them in the bed.
The same goes for other activities you would do while you are awake, such as watching TV, listening to music, texting people on your phone, doing paperwork, or working on your laptop. This is because they do not help you relax, instead of stimulating the brain.
Aim to always create a conducive environment in your bedroom – you can do this by keeping the room at a moderate temperature, eliminating noises and keeping it dark by closing the curtains. This will help the brain increase its production of melatonin, the hormone that is responsible for making you sleep.
Do mental exercises to make the brain busy
Sometimes eliminating the worries popping in your mind involves doing some mental activities to distract it. For instance, thinking of vegetables or fruits that begin with a certain letter, or names that end with certain syllables.
Other ideas can include reciting the lyrics of your favorite songs, thinking of your favorite songs from a certain artist, or focusing on the physical attributes of an object such as the shape, color, and size.
Doing some relaxation exercises
These will be particularly helpful when you are managing anxiety. They include having some muscle relaxation – relaxing and tensing each muscle group – and deep breathing.
Removing the things or habits that are interfering with your sleep
Sometimes, lack of sleep is due to bad habits that we have – whether knowingly or unknowingly. It is not enough to wrap yourself in your blankets and shut your eyes for you to sleep – it is important to eliminate these bad habits that are interfering with the quality of your sleep.
Most of the time, the major culprits behind poor sleeping patterns are alcohol and caffeine. Caffeine’s effects are out there in the public realm, although you might not know that they last for about four to seven hours. On the other hand, alcohol tricks your brain into ‘falling asleep’, but it interferes with the quality because it fragments your sleep cycle.
For some people, certain medications can also interfere with the quality of sleep. If this is your case, you can talk to your doctor to find out if there are alternatives or switch the time you take the medication.
Preparing your body for sleep is as important as sleep itself, but you cannot achieve good preparation when your sleep habits are all over the place. Investigate what is causing you trouble, and you will know what to eliminate and what to incorporate in your routine.