Heading into bed, what's the first thing that comes to mind? Is it the work you accomplished that day? Or the tasks you'll need to take care of tomorrow? Are you dwelling on the things you forgot to do? Or the things you wished you'd done?
Our thoughts before sleep can have a surprising impact on our nightly rest. Worrying is not likely to help you get any shut-eye, and stress and anxiety can pile up like chores on your to-do list. At night, you're better off scrapping that list and focusing on any one of these thoughts to get some much-needed shuteye.
1. Think About Staying Awake
When we go to bed, our biggest worry is whether or not we'll get to sleep. So if the issue is staying up, then go ahead and stay up.
And think about staying up. Allow yourself to be okay with being awake so much so that you get to the point that you don't care whether you fall asleep or not. Reducing the anxiety around falling asleep puts your sleep back in your control.
On Elite Daily, sleep health expert Dr. Sujay Kansagra described it as a type of paradox that he says calms your brain enough to fall asleep. We become so wound up in trying to get to sleep; we forget that being awake isn't all that bad. Once we let go of that fear, our minds relax and we drift off to sleep.
2. Focus on the Work You've Accomplished
For those that go to bed happy with their accomplishments, you're already on the right track. It's our focus on the mistakes we make and any unresolved issues that tear us from a good night of sleep.
Instead, take the time to recall every task you did complete that day. Keep a small notebook by your bed. Rather than fill it with things to do, write down the things you already did. It's cathartic and overall encouraging for the day ahead.
You may still have worries, but not allowing them to ruin your sleep will both strengthen and ease your mind.
3. Drift Into Your Dreams
Sure, you have dreams when you're dreaming. But when you can't access those dreams while asleep, think about them when you're awake. It's a beautiful feeling to imagine the places you want to visit, or that perfect partner or job. Put yourself into that dream world, the one you want to see around you, in the present moment.
The next day, decide to do something that will get you further to that goal. For a trip, start socking away some change into a vacation fund. For a partner, test the waters by doing a free trial of a popular online dating site. For a job, consider an internship or reading a book in the line of work you want to pursue.
Just knowing you'll take that action the next day will be a big boost to your confidence and a big relief overall.
4. Write Down Things You're Grateful For
Even on our worst days, we still often have a lot for which we can be grateful. Spend your waking hours thinking about the people that matter most to you, and the reasons why they mean so much. Think of things you're grateful for as you work on how to sleep better. Better yet, keep a journal next to your bed and write those ideas down as part of your nighttime routine.
Greater Good Magazine suggests a form of subtraction, not of addition in regards to gratefulness. In other words, consider the life you'd have without that person. It makes their presence in your life more meaningful and will help you appreciate all the things you have because of them.
After doing this exercise, you may even be able to add sleep to that list!
5. Relax Your Body to Relax Your Mind
True relaxation starts with the mind, in images such as rolling waves and tropical climates. But it doesn't end there. It extends all the way down to your toes.
Progressive muscle relaxation reduces stress by having you tighten and loosen different parts of your body. A task like this can keep your mind busy and away from overwhelming worries.
Take your breathing into account as well. Slow inhalation and exhalation clears our minds and places us in a peaceful state. The more you use your breath to guide you, the closer it will lead you to rest.
6. Repeat Positive Affirmations
What often impedes our sleep the most is negative thinking. Fretting the consequences of less sleep or reduced quality of sleep won't get you to sleep any faster.
Rewire your brain to say "I will sleep" and remove yourself from the "I won't's." Picture your worries as clouds blocking your clear thoughts and let them float away. This visualization puts the power to sleep back in your hands.
Besides sleep, positive affirmations provide a host of other benefits. According to Lifehack, they can help you overcome depression and improve relationships with your loved ones. Try the five-step method recommended by Huffpost to make those positive thoughts stick.
Release the burden of "I must," and you will slowly realize "I can."
7. Create An Imaginary Pie
Once you've found your negative thoughts to be less imposing, the final step is integrating them all. What better way to do that than to think about pie!
Imagine all your thoughts coming together like pieces of your favorite pie. It's not whole without each slice.
Our minds work the same way. If separated from the pack, each little thought has the potential to leave us feeling emptier. When we put our ideas together, we become whole too.
Start taking each negative thought you have and bring them back to a positive awareness. Each of your ideas before bed can help you better transition into a peaceful sleep.
We Can Help You Get a Mattress for Thinking All Your Thoughts
It's true that a jumbled mind only leads to a jumbled night of sleep. Releasing your fears, managing your thoughts before sleep, and focusing on the power of the present are ways we can help ourselves get a better night's rest.
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