Insomnia can have many different causes, but for a lot of us, what keeps us awake at night is our own thoughts. Worrying about the future, thinking about the past and re-living upsetting or embarrassing moments of your day can all take up valuable snooze time.
If this sounds familiar, the following tips could help you to quiet your mind, stop those racing thoughts and allow you to get a decent night’s sleep.
1. Schedule some time to worry
If you have a hectic schedule, you may find that the only time you have to think about what is happening in your life is when you go to bed. Obviously, this is less than ideal when you want to get some sleep. To solve this, try to schedule around 20 minutes of ‘worry time’ in the early evening and spend this time thinking about what’s worrying you and potential solutions.
2. Write your concerns down
If you find your mind is still racing despite giving yourself an allotted ‘worry time’ you may find it helpful to write your concerns down on paper. Take 10-20 minutes before you head to bed and write down your thoughts, giving yourself the freedom to explore your feelings and, again, any potential solutions. Having such worries written down on paper can help your brain switch off and relax.
3. Get out of bed
If you find yourself feeling anxious and worried before going to sleep regularly, chances are you now associate your bed with anxiety. To break this cycle, next time you go to bed and find it hard to stop thinking, get up and leave the room. Sit down in another room and try reading to take your mind off things, or journal your worries. Doing this should help you to disassociate your bed with anxiety over time.
4. Occupy your mind
Try to engage your mind with something other than your worries. For some people, thinking of something mundane (like counting sheep) can help – others however may need something more elaborate. Next time you’re struggling to sleep try to think of a story – it could be one you’ve read/seen in a film or one you have made up yourself. Concentrate on this storyline and nothing else until you drift off to sleep. Distracting your mind should trick it into feeling sleepy.
5. Avoid reliving parts of your day
We’ve all done it – something upsetting or embarrassing happens to us and we dwell on it when we go to bed. We think up alternative scenarios and come up with things we should have said or done differently. Next time this happens, try to remind yourself that this kind of thinking is not helpful and won’t change the way things turned out. Instead try to focus on the here and now by concentrating on your breathing and your immediate surroundings.
If you feel you need extra help to tackle your insomnia, a hypnotherapist may be able to help. To find out more, take a look at our page on insomnia.
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