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Why can't my mind stop thinking when I'm trying to sleep?

249 Answers
Last Updated: 09/04/2021 at 6:28am
Why can't my mind stop thinking when I'm trying to sleep?
★ This question about Sleeping Well was starred by a moderator on 5/12/2016.
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Alex DS Ellis, MA, LMFT

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Feeling depressed or anxious can be so overwhelming. I want to help you feel better and be able to enjoy life. You are not alone and you deserve emotional support.

Top Rated Answers
- Expert in Sleeping Well
June 18th, 2015 5:36pm
Sounds like your stressed. Can you tell me what sort of thoughts comes in your mind when you try to sleep?
Anonymous - Expert in Sleeping Well
August 14th, 2015 1:28am
This is likely due to anxiety mixed with insomnia. I personally have this struggle. It isn't fun, but i learned to cope.
- Expert in Sleeping Well
December 10th, 2014 12:26am
Anxiety will do that..when you have lots of stuff in your mind the anxiety gets to much and you can't stop thinking about everything
- Expert in Sleeping Well
December 15th, 2014 1:18pm
Because when you go to sleep, since your body is not doing anything anymore, it is normal for your brain activity to increase. You think about what you've done today, which makes you think about a thousand other stuff that happened in your whole life, you can call it a"stream of consciousness". I guess we should see it as something pretty awesome that our brain does.
- Expert in Sleeping Well
June 24th, 2015 4:40am
Because you worry so much about what's gonna happen tomorrow. Or you are a person with so much problems.
December 12th, 2014 5:36pm
Why is your mind so noisy when you are trying to sleep? 1. In bed, you are alone, or with a loved one. Your defences are down. There is no social pressure. Your mind is free to consider things other than daytime concerns. 2. You are relaxed. Your fight or flight response is at a minimum. 3. It is dark so you are less concerned with appearances. 4. You are reclined. This means there is more blood flow to the brain. These four factors alone allow your brain to turn on in ways it may not have been able to throughout the day. Also, we rush home late and jump into bed to get ready for an early day. Everyone needs time to process the day and relax before going to bed. Is that argument you had with your boss still on your mind? Did you forget to do something important today? Or maybe you are thinking about something you are planning next week...whatever it is, if it is keeping you awake for more than 20 minutes, you probably haven't done enough decompressing after your day and you might be better off getting up for awhile. Try keeping a journal where you "dump" your days events. Be aware of other things like caffeine consumption, which can keep you awake, and whether that nap you took has something to do with it. If you still don't sleep, develop a zen attitude about it. And be sure to check out the 7 Cups of Tea guide on sleeping well.
January 3rd, 2015 4:06am
If you do not do enough activities or hobbies you love doing every day, your mind will be too awake thinking of unhappy or aggravating things when you are trying to go to sleep. Try as hard as you can do to do things you love during the day and when night time comes, your mind just might be too tired to obsess on or be too tired to think of unhappy or aggravating things.
June 25th, 2015 6:41am
I have had a problem with this exact thing since freshman year of high school. So, I decide to do some research. Apparenty, the reason your mind stays active while you're trying to sleep is because you have unknowingly trained it to do so. You mind stays alert if you've been restless (tossing and turning) for many nights. So, you mind correlates your bed with restlessness and the rest is history. Once you get into bed, you brain immediately starts worrying about random things and you are stuck awake, but wanting to be asleep. It's like a vicious cycle, there is no way out of it! However, if you avoid napping, avoid doing other activities (watching TV, playing with your phone), go to bed only when you are sleepy, and minimize worrying (deal with stuff earlier in the day) you can regain your sleep. It will definitely be tough in the beginning, but eventually, your circadian rythm will catch up to you and you will have better REM sleep as well as more energy in the mornings. Hope this helps!
August 16th, 2015 8:58am
why can't you stop thinking ? What's on your mind ? Something must been bothering you , express it to clear it
August 29th, 2016 3:00pm
I have the same issue. I was told its a form of sleep apnea where you don't go into your REM sleep. Your mind wakes up every few minutes, not you physically, just your mind all night long. It feels like you just lay down and close your eyes but don't actually go to sleep. You're mulling over all this crap in your head next thing you know several hours have gone by but it feels like 10 minutes and your exhausted! I've had this issue for 16 yrs!!melatonin dissolving strips help me sleep for 4 hours a night(pills don't work for me) I've was told in my 20's I had low melatonin levels. I hope this helps some.
July 1st, 2015 4:47pm
It's because you're anxious . your body wants to sleep but your mind is acting otherwise. Try relaxing yourself with soft music .
August 8th, 2015 12:03pm
Your mind is probably running the most wild at night because you aren't doing anything, you're laying there, your thoughts are taking over. It is really difficult trying to sleep with so many thoughts, and sometimes, the thoughts won't let you sleep.
July 1st, 2015 1:15pm
From my own experience, that's because all my distractions are gone, my mind has nothing to focus on besides its own thoughts, and because I don't set myself a regular 'bedtime' my brain isn't exactly expecting to go to sleep, and therefore just thinks and thinks until I fall asleep, the brain's always thinking!
December 16th, 2015 6:51am
The thoughts of the day are running through my head. I suffer from insomnia followed by clinical anxiety. So, I constantly worry which lead to small panic attacks before falling asleep. I have to calm my mind.
October 11th, 2015 9:01am
I can understand this problem as I have had trouble sleeping for years. Bad experiences, stress, health and even environment can affect the quantity and the quality of sleep. To have a good night sleep, it's very important to have a fulfilling day first. Our minds subconsciously takes a lot of chaos, and though we manage to get around it during day but it catches up as soon as we are alone or when we hit our beds to sleep. The ongoing troubles and chaos are not something that mind can keep avoiding. Hence, it's a way of telling us that we need to clear our heads first. Even if we are facing meaningless worries, we need to face them while we are awake. There are several ways this can be done. Keeping a journal where I define my worries as useless or as something I should pay attention to, is my way of cutting the clutter from my mind. Doing at least a few things through a day that gives us immense happiness can be more fulfilling than it sounds. It doesn't mean that we have to wipe out our bank balance and go on a vacation (again) or go purchasing or even donate it in charity. It's more about forming habits that make us realise that we ARE happy. Such habits can be as tiny as- -treating our colleagues and seniors with respect and understanding. -asking a person who has been through rough things lately in his/her life, "Hey I was concerned about you. How are you doing TODAY?" -beginning to skip on one cigarette a day and feeling proud of it. -meeting our parents unannounced. -calling up an old friend who gave up complaining about not giving him/her time. -waking up half an hour earlier regardless of the previous night's sleep and feeling the freshness of the morning instead. -walking on foot while on our way back home and admiring the streets, the architecture, the people. -savouring the food when it enters our mouths. -enjoying the baths. -growing one indoor/ outdoor plant in our homes and attending to its needs. The list of tiny things that we can do each day can go on and on. The best part is they don't have to be time-demanding in order to be fulfilling. It is certainly hard to carry on after having some bad or traumatic experiences. But while struggling through all of it, let's not forget that we are capable of bringing tiny moments of happiness each day. Having asked someone, "How are you doing today?" may not mean much to us, but it is enough to overwhelm the person who is struggling too. There's no way that that our lips won't smile at nights if we remember to keep our days fulfilling. A good night sleep? It will hug you like a baby. Yes, I was saying this to YOU.
January 8th, 2015 8:20am
Because you have lots of things to think about. But you need to give yourself a little rest. Wash your feet with cold water. Switch of ALL the sources of light. Try some calming music. Sleep will come :)
December 14th, 2014 8:48am
For me, as I try to fall asleep, my mind works overtime the most! I think it's because as we try to sleep, there's naturally the least amount of distractions around to keep the mind occupied off of our own thought patterns. This can be an extremely frustrating thing; as I know from experience! I combat it sometimes by using a sound machine in the background, and also listening to something I enjoy and find stimulating but also calming - such as a TV show/movie I've seen several times, talk radio, music, YouTubes I like, etc - that way, I can "trick" my mind into thinking I'm not truly "trying to sleep" and rather that I am simply relaxing. Sometimes this helps me fall asleep in no time. You can also try to write out all of your worries at a scheduled time - with a time limit - before sleep, and then try to be mindful of your thoughts and remind yourself that you've already covered those worries and now it's time for you to focus on your sleep and self-care. Best of luck!
August 13th, 2015 11:36am
It's when the voices outside stop talking that the voices inside start. Just before we fall asleep is when we reflect, and sometime's that's not always for the best.
December 18th, 2014 4:38pm
It can often be because you havent given your brain a chance to relax. I always read before I go to bed and dont go on my phone to unwind
December 27th, 2014 10:28pm
That's a difficult question to answer because there's many potential reasons. Perhaps you're using too many stimulants or not burning enough energy before bed time?
June 20th, 2015 4:14am
It is hard for me to sleep when I have various thoughts in my mind. I worry about the next day and so forth. I think about the obstacles I will have to overcome. I think about events from the past. I think daily about what I had accomplished each day.
August 10th, 2015 7:48pm
You need to relax. Try to think in positive things and forget the bad things. Close your eyes and take a deep breath, it'll help you
June 28th, 2015 3:40am
If you don't give your mind time to stop and think during the day, it will try to catch up at night! It's okay to be bored, so every once in a while you should put aside your phone or whatever occupies your time and let yourself reflect. It'll help when it's time to sleep :)
February 4th, 2016 5:59am
Coz you are thinking about the fact that your mind is thinking about thinking.. Its so recursive you obviously can not sleep, just close your eyes make your mind go blank by saying within your mind "Go Blank".."Go Blank".."Go Blank".. and let your nerves relax.. slowly reduce the intensity with which you say this within your head and you will fall asleep.. This always works for me, it works like hypnotism where you let your brain loose all the control and you give it a sense that it is no longer responsible for making you sleep.. someone else is.. then your nerves relax and you fall in the lap of sleep.
December 10th, 2014 1:35am
Limit your caffeine especislly if you have anxiety . When you're under large amounts of stress it effects your health and your sleeping
December 10th, 2014 11:53am
It sounds like you may have a topic on your mind you have yet to wear out. What might you need to restore peace to your mind before you sleep? There may be someone you can speak to that would make you feel better, or you could work out your thoughts in writing. You could also try more exercise during the day to tucker yourself out, and squeezing in any more good experiences you can, so you have more pleasant and relaxing events to reflect on as you rest. Overall, finding someway to vent, spending more time pleasurably or with good laughs, and making sure you're physically tired at night (and avoiding caffeine and other stimulants past the afternoon) are ways to help your mind wind down.
August 16th, 2015 12:00am
Your mind is overloaded. You need to find some things to abstract of the whole thoughts in your mind.
January 8th, 2016 9:00pm
Watching something to try to sleep, this could be good for you. You've got your mind busy with other things
June 8th, 2016 9:39am
Our brains never get to sleep, they always work 24/7. Some people find it hard to fall asleep at night, and it's simple, maybe there's something bothering you that wil come the next day, Relaxing yourself and distracting you from overthinking always helps.
June 19th, 2015 11:07pm
Your mind can't stop thinking because you have too much stress to deal with or a big change or event