What’s better than a comfortable nap after a busy day at the office? So, you’ve done your errands for the day, got into the sleeping suit, and finally, it’s time to close your eyes, but wait!
You suddenly remember something from the day, and all of a sudden, your mind is surrounded by racing thoughts. Having too many thoughts while you wait to sleep is a common problem, especially in adults, and for some, it can bring about sleepless nights.
However, there are natural ways to tackle the problem, and you can get better sleep by adopting some simple hacks. So, let’s get started.
Why Is It Hard to Shut Off Your Brain Before Sleeping?
Controlling racing thoughts at night often seems like an impossible task. Even when you want to stop thinking, there is always something that pops up in your mind. Before you know it, you’re occupied by too many thoughts, and you can’t help but keep on thinking.
Experts suggest that racing thoughts and other sleep problems have links with insufficient sleep. So, getting enough sleep is one of the first essentials if you want to control racing thoughts at night.
It’s a paradox really, as not enough sleep leads to racing thoughts at night, which, in turn, leads to more sleeplessness. Other factors may also contribute, such as anxiety, overthinking, and bad sleep habits.
Tips to Control Racing Thoughts When Trying to Sleep
Here’s a bunch of simple tricks to help you out with this common sleep problem:
List Your Errands for the Next Day
First up, you must understand what are racing thoughts. Generally, they are the worries related to our day-to-day affairs. They can be both good and bad.
For instance, you might be planning for a road trip or having an important meeting the next day. Sometimes, our brains are too eager to plan things out, so they work overtime. But there is a way to tackle this problem.
Studies suggest that making a to-do list for the following day can help you sleep nine minutes earlier than those who listed down the tasks they completed during the previous day.
Experts believe that the more detailed the list you make, the quicker you can fall asleep. It happens because your mind becomes clearer when you note down things to do in the future, so there is less to think about when you’re in bed.
Read Something Mild
Reading can be an excellent way to stop racing thoughts, but make sure to read something mild. By reading, you can distract your brain from the current thoughts. However, it’s best to read from a physical book or paperback because digital screens can cause other sleeping problems.
So, 20 to 30 minutes of reading time is sufficient to help you fall asleep quicker. In case you still don’t fall asleep, leave the bed and read somewhere else.
Leave the Bed
This may seem weird, but leaving the bed is an effective way to stop racing thoughts. According to Dr. Cormac O’Donovan, an associate professor of neurology at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, it’s not great to try falling asleep in bed.
The process can train your brain to think of your bedroom as a place for overthinking. As a result, you may fall victim to racing thoughts at night more often. So, if it’s been more than 20 minutes and you’re still struggling to sleep, get out of bed now.
O’Donovan added that the standard eight hours of sleep might not be essential for everyone. Some people can work with even six hours of daily sleep. When you try to sleep when your brain is still active, maybe you’re going to sleep too early.
Light Carbohydrate Snacks Can Help
It’s essential to eat a light meal at night. Heavy meals and too much sugar reduces the digestion speed, keeping you awake for longer. Moreover, if racing thoughts keep you awake, try a light carbohydrate meal like grains or popcorn before sleeping.
Experts believe that carbs regulate serotonin levels in the brain, which helps sleep regulation. But try eating good carbs!
Listen to Sounds that Promote Sleep
Soothing and calming sounds can help you sleep quicker. They calm your brain and take away the attention from thoughts racing through your mind. Even though sound therapy needs more factual evidence, it may work for some people.
So, try listening to some soothing sounds. There are apps for it, and you can choose from various natural sounds like the ocean, rain, or some crickets chirping in the backyard. If you’re now living in a different place, you can try sounds from your native area to make a more conducive environment for sleeping.
According to Dr. O’Donovan, listening to such sounds can bring back soothing memories, providing a relaxing and more comforting sensation, taking your mind off the worries to help you sleep quicker.
Time to Take Expert Advice
Everyone can have sleepless nights sometimes because of too many thoughts. However, if you feel like fighting racing thoughts is becoming a part of your routine, it’s time to consult a doctor.
Medical consultation can help you to understand the problem better. For instance, it could be a mental block or a specific medication causing such brain activity.
According to experts, sleep medications may be helpful to fight occasional episodes of racing thoughts, but they should not be made part of a lifestyle.
Even though a running brain is suitable for your professional and personal lifestyle, it’s not healthy if you keep thinking about stuff while waiting to sleep. Therefore, it’s essential to understand what are racing thoughts and how you can get rid of them for a good night’s sleep.
The hacks you just read are expert-approved, which means there are higher chances of success. However, never underestimate medical consultancy because your health conditions may have a say in this too.