Sometimes, sleeping problems and disorders are caused by a restless mind. It’s generally hard to fall asleep when your mind is racing and extremely alert. It’s normal for this to go on in the daytime since those are normal working hours; however, if it goes on at night even until bedtime, that’s a serious problem.
These racing thoughts aren’t always negative, they could involve work, a project or family. Perhaps, you have a lot going on in your life all at once, and you like to stay on top of everything so your mind is constantly in planner mode. This is great but isn’t healthy. If you’d like to make some positive changes, here are a few tips on how to calm racing thoughts in the evening.
1. Try calming yourself
Before going to bed, try calming yourself. Take yourself to a happy place in your mind; it could be a good memory, a kind word to yourself, or a satisfactory concluding thought. Do whatever you need to calm your mind so you can relax.
For some people, a warm glass of milk before bed relaxes them and makes them drowsy. For others, a warm shower does the trick. Some even use CBD products for anxiety to balance the mind and body.
2. Try not to lie awake when you’re in bed
Go to bed when you’re extremely sleepy. Until then, try sitting in the living room or any other room in the house. Entertain yourself with things that could encourage sleep, like a good book or some word games; using your phone or watching TV shows may keep your mind a bit too active, so try avoiding those. When you finally feel sleepy, you can go to your bedroom.
Doing this will let your brain know that your bed is only for sleeping and every other room in the house is for other activities. Getting this right is easier said than done. Some people complain that immediately after their heads hit the bed, the sleep leaves their eyes. This may happen at first, but stay consistent until your body gets used to it.
3. Decorate your bedroom with cozy furniture
Our minds often respond faster to what we see around us. If your room looks like an office, it will start to feel like one. As a result, you will be alert whenever you’re in there. The same thing goes if your room looks like a living room instead of a bedroom. Psychotherapists and sleep therapists usually discourage having a TV in your bedroom for this very reason.
So, get creative or look at some room decor samples online. Invest in furniture that makes your room feel cosy. For example, you could add some more fluffy pillows to your bedding or get some silk sheets if that makes you most comfortable. The idea is to make your mind understand that your bedroom is meant for sleeping.
4. Identify the source of your racing thoughts
Identifying the source of your racing thoughts is important because it allows you to address the underlying cause of your anxiety. Some common sources of racing thoughts include:
- A feeling of being overwhelmed by a particular situation – worry, stress and frustration over current situations can lead to an increase in racing thoughts.
- A fear of losing control or having something bad happen – a fear that something catastrophic will happen can lead to distress, which can manifest as racing thoughts.
- A feeling that things are spinning out of control – when you feel like certain tasks, problems or goals are slipping away from your grasp, this can lead to a heightened sense of anxiety that leads to racing thoughts.
- The pressure from others to perform well – experiencing pressure from the people around you to accomplish goals or meet deadlines can be overwhelming and create an increase in anxiousness, leading to racing thoughts.
5. Practice mindful breathing
Mindful breathing can help to bring peace of mind and calm racing thoughts. Focusing on the present moment – your physical feelings, the air entering and leaving your lungs, and the rhythm of your breath – allows you to let go of worries, anxieties, and thoughts about the future or past.
Start by finding a comfortable position in a safe place that allows you to relax. You may be standing or sitting with feet planted on the floor or you can be in a relaxed laying down position with your arms by your sides. Focus on your breathing as you take slow deep breaths for 3-5 seconds, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. During this exercise focus, all of your attention on each inhale and exhale. You may count silently each time you breathe in or out or repeat certain words or phrases that have meaning to you such as “I am calm” or “I relax” while practicing powerful abdominal breathing.
6. Write down your thoughts
Writing down your thoughts can be an effective way to quiet them and allow you to take a step back from the situation. Writing out your thoughts provides an objective view of them – once we write them down, they become detached from us, allowing us to view them more objectively. It can also help to put our thought processes into words that are easier to understand. Additionally, the simple act of writing can give a sense of accomplishment – something tangible was produced through this exercise.
If writing is not your thing, then expressing your thoughts in other forms such as drawing or journaling can also be beneficial. You do not need to focus on grammar or neatness; simply letting yourself write freely is enough. Focusing on journaling about pleasant experiences and positive emotions or expressing gratitude for things that went well during the day may also help alleviate racing thoughts in the evening.
It is important to be aware of the sources of racing thoughts and to know how to manage them effectively. Learning some relaxation techniques, such as calming breathing exercises or visualization, can help reduce racing thoughts in the evening.
Additionally, cognitive behavioral therapy can help address underlying issues that may be causing this problem. It is also important to limit alcohol and caffeine consumption in the evening and find ways to relax your body and mind before bedtime.
This can include taking a warm bath, engaging in gentle stretches or yoga poses, reading a book, listening to music that relaxes you, or journaling your thoughts before you go to sleep. By being mindful of the sources of your racing thoughts and finding healthy ways to manage them, you can get back into a peaceful sleep routine.