How can I stop my brain from wandering about at night?
Last Updated: 04/13/2021 at 11:46am
Theresa Gulliver, Registered Clinical Counsellor
Problems cannot be solved using the same level of thinking that created them. We must try something different. Gently, we turn your challenges into opportunities for healing.
Top Rated Answers
A few things to help you fall asleep: Temperature (a colder environment helps the production of melatonin at night, a hormone that helps regulate sleep). Lights (Blue light from our phones and computers helps to keep us awake, so make sure you power those off 30 mins to an hour before bedtime... low light is best). Caffeine (Don't drink that past lunchtime as that stimulant can lead to insomnia and it's effects last for about 4-6 hours). Counting (This idea was very boring to me at first, but that's exactly why it works... eventually my mind grows restless from counting from 1-100 and 100-1). Scents (I like to put oils on my wrists and neck or light candles before bedtime, a relaxing or comforting scent does wonders). Routine (Try to keep a routine, read before bed, brush your teeth,pack a lunch, etc. all within a certain time period so that your body becomes accustomed to this routine and you aren't rushing around trying to do something when your body is saying "It's time for bed!"). Those are just a few of my tips-and feel free to message me with anymore questions you might have. I'm not an expert, but as someone who as struggled to sleep for years, today I have a much better grasp on what helps get my body to sleep.
At night when I can't sleep, I use a technique that I learned in a stress relieving/ yoga class. You start at your feet and relax every muscle in your feet and make them feel as heavy as steel. You move up your body, guiding yourself and concentrating on the task at hand. When you finish your whole body, you should feel more relaxed and focused.
I'd suggest maybe having something to drink beforehand, either water or maybe warm milk (unless you're lactose intolerant). I've noticed that laying on my right side looking to the side helps a lot, I don't know why, but it works.
If you've never tried meditation, I would highly recommend it. Sit down or lay down in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and banish all thoughts that come to your head. A monotonous, repetetive thought can be of help in this; I usually think something as simple as the words "Don't think," over and over. Just clear away all the clutter and enjoy the feeling. I usually pass straight from meditation over to sleep; but even when I don't, it's helpful. It relaxes the mind and the body entirely, and there's nothing better than relaxation to promote a restful night. Another suggestion I have is actually quite the contrary to meditation; exercise. Exercise before bed, and take a very hot shower, as hot as you can stand. This takes away your energy and then relaxes you immediately thereafter. Both of these methods have helped me greatly in different situations.
Some meditative technique might help. A Mindfulness exercise or self-hypnosis also works. Or simply listening to some calm and soothing music before bedtime.
A good guide is our 7 cups of tea how to sleep well guide: https://www.7cups.com/sleeping-well/ Enjoy xoxo.
Imagine a lotus flower growing and decreasing in size in accordance with your breathing. breathe accordingly.
Simply let these random thoughts pass by while trying to empty my mind with the help of a mindfulness app.
might sound crazy, but for me i just picture total darkness. just black. block out every thought that comes to mind, and concentrate on blackness
I've realized that night is when my brain wanders the most, the great thing is that it's easy to be conscious about it. I usually try to focus on my breathe, and direct my thoughts to more sleeping and relaxing which sometimes helps. A great way is a breathing method where you count your breaths (inhale + exhale = 1 breath): it ends up calming your body and puts your mind more to sleep.
Distract yourself before you go to sleep make sure you tell your brain and let yourself know its time to go to bed now. A glass of warm milk is also great!
There are some fantastic mindfulness and meditation apps available to download or alternatively, you can always find videos to assist you with mindfulness and meditation on YouTube as well. Taking the time out to meditate or practice mindfulness for just 10 minutes every day, whether it be first thing in the morning, the middle of your day or last thing at night in bed can make a significant impact on your wellbeing. It allows you to take a step back from the constant movement of the world around you and focus entirely on yourself and your wellbeing. I would recommend it to anyone, whether they’re facing difficulties falling asleep or just wanting to find a way to step back. It is something I make a consistent effort to to in my daily life, it’s part of my nighttime routine before I fall asleep.
When you catch yourself wandering, first focus on making your breathing deep and slow. Focus on how your breath makes you feel. Try to expand your belly as much as you can with your breaths in, and make your exhalations as long and slow as possible. When you have started to calm yourself, do a body awareness medidation. Send your mental attention to your feet, and slowly bring the awareness of your body up your legs, through your belly, chest, arms, neck and finally your head. Investigate closely how each part of your body feels. Linger your attention at places that feel right. Repeat as needed!
I often try and play different games in my mind to help me. One of my favorites is to just lay there and mentally describe people. I'll start with their physical attribute (like their hair color /length or their height) and then move on to their personality and then their hobbies and then move on to their friends repeating the same process for each one - this can keep your brain distracted from wandering. Another thing I do is recall random facts, by searching my memory to try and find these facts the brain is often too distracted to think of other things.
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