The past few weeks my sleep hasn’t been the best quality. I go through stages like this and I put it down to stress. It’s why I love to walk and started a site called Walking Body & Mind to share my walking journey.
Stress can impact you in so many ways and one of those is not getting your brain to shut off when you are trying to sleep! I don’t know about you but I seem to mentally review what I did that day, what I did yesterday and what I did when I was a kid! Nothing seems to be off limits with my brain when all I want to do is sleep. Does this happen to you?
So you can’t stop thinking when trying to sleep? This post is about providing you with tips to help you turn your brain off and get to sleep. From meditation to writing our thoughts down, these will help you stop thinking and get to sleep. Remember though that you may need to try all of these tips and see what works for you.
Before getting in to the tips I wanted to tell you that if you find it hard to get to sleep because your brain won’t shut off – that is normal. It happens to a lot of people however I also want you to know that you can do something about it. If you follow the tips below you will give yourself a good chance of shutting your brain off and getting a good night’s sleep.
1. Reduce your caffeine intake
You may need coffee to waken you up in the mornings but too much throughout the day and close to bed time can contribute massively to you not being able to switch your brain off. Try easing back on your caffeine in the afternoon and don’t drink in the evening instead opt for herbal teas which have a more calming affect.
2. Watch what you eat before bed
Did you know that if you eat high fat and high sugar food close to bed time that you will also be tossing and turning? Your body will be restless and that includes your mind so instead opt for protein and not very much before going to bed. Try a chamomile tea too which will relax you.
3. Leave the your phone in the hall
While smartphones are great and being connected is great, it’s not so good if you continually check it when your body needs sleep! Not to mention the blue light stops your body for sleeping. Try and leave your phone in the hall when it is time for sleep. I am sure the emails and social media posts can wait until morning.
4. Keep a notebook by your bed to record those “OMG-DO-NOT-FORGET” thoughts that pop in your head
I recommend you buy a little notebook and pen and keep by your bedside. Before your head hits the pillow write down everything that you have to do the next day. This is your list, by writing it down allows you to forget about it until tomorrow. The act of writing and telling yourself that’s for tomorrow will help to calm your mind and not have you thinking of the 101 things you need to do. It gives you permission to forget about it.
5. Wind down before bed
Having a bed time routine will help switch our brain off so you can sleep. I’ve a full post on my bedtime routine and how you can start yours here. It’s about doing things that help you unwind such as a relaxing bath, reading, dimming the lights. Anything that helps you relax is considered good while you get ready for bed.
6. Make your bed a dedicated space for sleeping
Keep your bedroom a tech free zone. By that I mean leaving your TV, laptop, table and phone outside. If you use your bed for sleep then it will train your brain to recognise it as a place of relaxation and sleep. This conditioning is very important to shut your brain off and allow you to have a good night’s rest.
It is a strategy that I have found works really well and helps me sleep without having to worry about what is on my social medial.
7. Invest in good quality pillows and sheets
We spend a third of our life in bed so make it count with a good quality mattress but also excellent quality pillows and sheets. You need to be able to float away to your dreams in comfort so make sure you have all the right equipment with you. Please don’t skimp on your comfort, the right ones will help you feel relaxed and ready to drift off to the land of nod.
8. Allow yourself to think.
What I mean is that you can allow yourself the space to think for a little bit and then write it down as I’ve suggested above. Above all don’t be hard on yourself, if you feel when you lie down your mind starts then sit up and write everything down.
The think is it may take a little time to train your mind to be calm to let you sleep but you will get there. Just don’t be hard on yourself.
9. Practice deep breathing.
A very helpful tip to distract your brain is deep breathing. The technique is great, you want to breathe out longer than you breath in, pausing after breathing in and out. If you focus on your breathing it will help you relax your brain. If you do this for 10 minutes or so it really does work wonders at calming an overactive brain.
10. Practice Mindfulness.
Put simply mindfulness is focusing on the present. What is happening right now. If you practice mindfulness before bed it will help calm your mind. For instance, start by focusing on your surroundings, what are the noises you hear, what are the smells, what do you feel on your skin. You also then can move on to observing your thoughts. The idea isn’t to focus on them but just acknowledge them.
Finally, I want to add something here that you should consider. To ease up on yourself. Not to get upset, annoyed or angry at yourself for not being able to calm your mind. Like I said, it will take a bit of practice on your part but you will get there and you will be sleeping in no time. You will awaken to a refreshed feeling, a feeling of having a great night’s rest and ready to take on the day.