3-Easy and Calming Thought Exercises You Can Do Before Bed
Sometimes we can take a good night’s sleep for granted. For some of us, it doesn’t come that easy. Falling asleep becomes such a challenge when we feel like our thoughts are racing at night, or we struggle with managing anxiety. There are ways to quiet our minds and calm our bodies before bed. Following these three calming thought exercises before bed can make all the difference in strengthening our ability to fall asleep, stay asleep and get some good, restful sleep.
Write Out Your Thoughts
Many people struggle with insomnia because their minds are very active at night and will keep them awake even when their body would really like to fall asleep. Writing out your thoughts can be one way to help quiet your mind at night because it allows you to get all of the thoughts that are circling around inside…out!
By writing your thoughts down in a notebook or just on a piece of paper, you help your mind release and let go of those thoughts. Sometimes your thoughts might revolve around something you need to do the next day so by writing it out, your mind can feel confident that you will remember what needed to be done in the morning. Other times, you might be worried about something going on in your life and by writing it out, you give it the space it needs without it circling and occupying your mind which can increase your anxiety.
Practice Re-Focusing on One Thing
When we have dozens of different ideas in your mind and all of your thoughts are spinning around in your head, it might signal a need for some grounding. A great tool to practice grounding before bed is learning to re-focus. Practice focusing on one particular thing, this could be the sound of your breathing, an object in the room, or a calming phrase or mantra. If you can get better at re-focusing when your thoughts are racing, you may find that some of the “noise” inside your mind goes away. This is the core of what a meditation practice is, learning how to shift your focus to the present moment, allowing your thoughts to come and go.
Replace Negative Thoughts
Oftentimes the thoughts that keep us up at night are negative. These negative thoughts take over our minds and have us spinning all night long, unable to get much-needed rest. Filling your mind with new, positive thoughts is one way to get your body to relax. Negative thoughts make us more anxious and agitated.
A good way to replace negative thoughts is to focus on gratitude. Even when things seem crazy, focus on finding things that you are grateful for and then focus on those thoughts. Maybe you are thankful for your loving family or your loving friends? Maybe you have a sweet pet or fun coworkers? Maybe you love your job, love where you live, or love that memory of your grandmother baking your favorite cookies for your 17th birthday? Whatever it is, think about it and meditate on it. Let your mind be thankful and replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts.
Making the time to calm yourself before bed can positively impact how much sleep you get as well as the quality of sleep that you get. Some of these practices might take some time getting used to, however, don’t let that stop you from remaining consistent with implementing some of these tools. Your body and mind will thank you in the morning!
**** Written for Meridian Counseling by: Saba Kerendian, AMFT
Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist(AMFT 88936)