Your Brain Won’t Let You Sleep? 11 Ways To Shut Your Brain Off For Better Sleep
Your racing mind can’t let you sleep at night? Do you keep awake wondering about everything and nothing? Whether it’s going to sleep fast or getting the required hours of sleep, anything that disrupts your sleep (in this case, an unsettled mind), can be a major issue.
While insomnia can be a serious problem, racing thoughts at night can pose even more serious problems. In a 2021 study, it was found that racing thoughts at night (even if they were not anxious or intrusive) can cause sleep problems in insomnia sufferers. These kinds of racing thoughts were also different from rumination, the study further noted.
Did you know that there’s a reason your overactive mind can’t let you sleep? Whether you learned something new today, explored a city, or just did your routine activities – your brain is constantly collecting information. It’s not until your bedtime that you get some quiet time and it’s during those hours that all the information that your brain collected comes crashing down (including your worries).
Whether you’re overexcited, anxious, stressed, or just replaying your day in your mind – any thought obstructing your sleep can be potentially harmful to your health in the long run.
Below, I’ve listed some ways to shut your brain off and get the sleep of your dreams (excuse the pun)
How To Shut Your Brain Off for Better Sleep?
1.Switch Off Your Devices
I can understand the pull of those IG reels but it’s time to set aside your smartphones and switch off your devices to ensure a good night’s sleep. The stimulation from the electronic devices can excite your overexcited brain and make it harder for you to shut off your brain before bed.
Also, electronic devices emit blue light which can disrupt your circadian rhythm so even though you’re tempted to scroll through one more reel or watch one more episode of your favorite K-drama, you should shut off your devices before bed.
2.Do Some PMR (Progressive Muscle Relaxation)
PMR or Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a relaxation technique that can help you release the excessive tension in your body and relax into a restful sleep. PMR involves deliberately tensing your muscles and then gently releasing them one after another, starting with your facial muscles and ending with your toes.
Here is a guide for you on how to practice progressive muscle relaxation (PMR).
3.Focus On Deep Breathing
Slow down your breathing, slow down your mind. When you focus on your breathing, you will find yourself relaxing. With each deep breath, count so your focus doesn’t shift. Keep your attention on the mindful activity of deep breathing if you’re looking to shut your brain off before bed.
You can also try these breathing exercises for better sleep:
4.ASMR Can Help
Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response or ASMR can be a pleasant and relaxing experience when you’re looking to clear your mind and sleep quickly. ASMR videos and audio can help with better sleep. These videos and audio can include relaxing sounds such as tapping, rustling, quiet reading, and even whispers of sleep stories.
For a better ASMR experience, it’s recommended that you use headphones.
5.Make A To-Do List
Another effective way to shut off your brain and sleep fast is to take a few minutes to make a to-do list. More often than not, the worries about the next day keep our brains alert and sometimes anxious. Making a to-do list can help transfer the worries onto paper and give you an advantage over others.
You can also choose to journal your thoughts before bed to help your mind calm down and sleep better.
6.Take A Warm Bath/Shower
If you can’t sleep or if your brain won’t let you sleep, it’s ok. Just take a warm bath or a shower. Research shows that a pre-bedtime shower or bath (even a warm foot soak) can be beneficial in relaxing your body enough to catch the required hours of Zzzs.
Here, you can read about the benefits of shower or bath meditation and how it can help your body and brain relax.
7.Try Some Sleep Meditation
You can also shut your brain off for better sleep by practicing sleep meditation. If you’re a beginner at meditation, then you can use a point of focus to help you stay focused. It could be your breaths, a sensation, a phrase or mantra, or an object (maybe a candle).
In the beginning, you may struggle with keeping your thoughts and worries away from your mind but keep trying. Keep your attention on the point of focus. Once you’re able to focus, with time, you’ll be able to meditate and clear your mind.
8.Call Out Your Worries
You can’t get rid of all your worries, no matter how hard you try, however, there’s a way to quiet the worries. The more you tell yourself to get rid of the worries, the harder it’ll be to do so. To help with that, you can schedule a “worry time” and let your worries surface then.
Choose a small time frame (say, 15-30 minutes) and sit quietly. Let your worries surface. This way, you’ll address your worries and also give yourself time to solve them. This activity can help you have a clear mind before bed.
9.Have A Sleep-Wake Routine
If you have a regular sleep-wake routine, then your mind will automatically succumb to slumber, gradually. When you wake up and sleep at the same time every morning and night, your body and mind will adjust accordingly and your mind will be more settled before bed.
To further help set a routine, you can try to get in bed an hour before your typical bedtime and set your alarm to wake you up an hour before your typical wake-up time.
10.Reduce Caffeine Consumption
Caffeine has many benefits but it also acts as a stimulant and keeps you awake and your mind alert. For some people, it can even increase anxiety which can increase the racing thoughts. However, when I talk about caffeine, I’m not only including coffee but tea, chocolate, and sodas.
If you want to drink caffeine, it is recommended by experts to consume caffeine at least four hours before bedtime so that you have time to expel the extra energy supplied by the drug.
11.Go With Sleep Supplements, If Needed
If all the above steps are unable to help you shut your brain off before bed, then you can consult with professionals and ask for sleep aids aka sleep supplements. Melatonin is a common sleep supplement that mimics the sleep hormone, melatonin, and aids sleep.
Other sleep supplements that can help you get better sleep can include valerian roots, CBD, and L-theanine.
Please note: Before taking any supplements, consult with a professional as many of these supplements may worsen existing conditions and have severe side effects.
Wondering, “I want to sleep but my brain won’t let me”? Remember, racing thoughts are common and can disrupt your sleep but it’s not a serious concern. However, if your restless and sleepless nights are the cause of symptoms such as:
- Constant feelings of sadness
- Frequent mood swings
- Anhedonia– a loss of interest in enjoyable activities
- Frequent fatigue and tiredness, and
- Changes in appetite
Then, you need to consult a professional for additional help and support. Not being able to sleep or waking up frequently in the middle of the night can be a sign of underlying health problems. Depending on your condition, a doctor may suggest therapy, medication, or other self-care techniques to help you cope with sleep troubles.
I hope this blog helped you understand how to shut your brain off before bedtime for better (and fast) sleep. For more, you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on social media.
You can also share your favorite sleep tips and ways to calm your overactive mind at night in the comments below.
Sleep Well! Take Care!