Mind Can’t Shut Down At Night? Here’s How To Stop Racing Thoughts At Night
Finally, the day’s over. After a warm shower and a hot cup of chamomile tea, you slip into bed. You lay your head on the pillow, close your eyes, and wait for the deep slumber to take over.
“Did I forget to pick up the meds?” “Maybe I could do with a diet” “What if tomorrow doesn’t go as I’ve planned?”
As soon as you close your eyes, you’re plagued with racing thoughts such as these. As you finally settle for bed, your minds begin to go over a thousand different things, errands to do, worries to face, and so on. Maybe you think about what you did that day or maybe you reminisce about something that happened over a decade ago.
Whatever the content of your racing thoughts at bedtime, you can’t stop thinking about them. As they continue to run through your mind, you notice an increase in your heart rate, and all the idea of getting a good night’s rest flies away.
How unfair, right? Right when you want to rest and unwind, your racing thoughts make it nearly impossible.
Experiencing racing thoughts at night is not something uncommon, especially in recent stressful times. Some of us even experience racing thoughts as a part of a mental health disorder. Either way, racing thoughts at night can be terrible for your sleep schedule and can leave you feeling drained instead of rested.
In this blog, let’s take a look at some of the causes of racing thoughts at night, how they can feel, and how to stop racing thoughts at night.
What Causes These Racing Thoughts?
When you’re faced with a major stressor like financial stress, family stress, or major relationship change, then you can find yourself lying on your bed, head full of racing thoughts. Racing thoughts at night can also be a symptom of an underlying mental health disorder.
Here are some of the common reasons why you experience racing thoughts at night:
1. Anxiety Disorders
If you struggle with an anxiety disorder then you may experience racing thoughts at night. More often than not, racing thoughts can feel like the onset of an anxiety or panic attack.
2. Bipolar Disorder
Racing thoughts is one of the symptoms of bipolar disorder, especially during mania. But just because you experience racing thoughts doesn’t mean you have bipolar disorder. Racing thoughts are just another symptom along with hallucinations, mood swings, and more.
3. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
When you struggle with OCD, then you can find yourself falling prey to racing thoughts. People with OCD can experience racing thoughts not only during nighttime but during daytime as well.
4. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
As a symptom of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, racing thoughts can make you fixate on a particular event and cause flashbacks. Again, racing thoughts during PTSD can be experienced during the day as well.
5. Medications & Recreational Drugs
You can also experience racing thoughts as a side effect of taking prescribed medications or recreational drugs like CBD oil. If you’re taking prescribed medications, please consult with your doctor about their effects.
Drinking caffeine before bed can also cause your heart to race and your mind to run aimlessly. Make sure that you avoid consuming caffeine at least 4-5 hours before bed and if you’re sensitive to caffeine, avoid drinking caffeine at all.
What Do Racing Thoughts Feel Like?
Racing thoughts, like any unpleasant and ruminating thoughts, are simply thoughts that suddenly pop up in your head. These thoughts race when you can’t control their flow. When you experience racing thoughts at night, you might go through:
- Numerous thoughts that stream on a loop
- Watching scenarios play in your mind like a reel, unable to stop
- Feeling like someone is talking too fast in your head and without pause
- Increased heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating, and other symptoms of an anxiety attack
The reason why we experience racing thoughts at night is that during the day, we’re mostly distracted from our fears and uncertain future. We constantly work, care, and distract ourselves by engaging in multiple tasks at once.
However, during the night, when distractions are not readily available, our innermost thoughts and fears surface. The more our thoughts run rampant in our minds and the more we seem to lose control of our thoughts, the more difficult processing emotions and feelings become.
Can Racing Thoughts Be Treated?
If you’re experiencing racing thoughts at night, then one of the reasons can be an underlying mental health disorder or even insomnia. Seeking professional help can be beneficial in controlling your racing thoughts, managing your symptoms, and treating your insomnia. Here are some ways your racing thoughts can be treated:
1. Therapy: With a professional counselor’s help, you can figure out what’s causing your racing thoughts at night. Approaches like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)can help you become aware of your thinking process and reframe your thoughts to control your behavior.
2. Medications: This treatment might not be effective if the cause of your racing thoughts at night is medications. However, if you’re diagnosed with a severe mental health disorder that’s causing your racing thoughts, then medication may help.
Please consult your doctor before taking any medication as many medications may have side effects that can worsen your condition.
Tips To Stop Racing Thoughts At Night
Many of us may find ourselves struggling with racing thoughts at night because of life’s many stressors. Here are some tips to reduce stress and get rid of racing thoughts at night:
1. Use A Worry Journal
Write your worries in a worry journal before you go to sleep. This practice can help clear your mind and reduce nighttime stress. You can take 5-10 minutes out of your day to give to this worry journal and free your mind of any ruminating thoughts.
Before bed, meditation can also help you control your racing thoughts and feelings of being overwhelmed. There are simple and effective nighttime meditations that you can practice to stop racing thoughts at night. Give yourself at least 10-15 minutes of meditation each night.
3. Reduce Screen Time
Most of the time, the content we consume can stay with us all day and night. Plus, too much screen time or exposing yourself to “blue light” before bed can cause a decrease in melatonin, making it harder for you to fall asleep quickly. Any negative content you consume before bed can increase your racing thoughts. So avoid using your phones or laptops before bed.
4. Avoid Doomscrolling
Like I said in the point above, any content you consume can affect your thinking. If you consume negative content more often than you can find yourself spiraling down in an abyss of racing thoughts. Try to replace your before-bed news time (or doomscrolling) with meditation, bathtime, or a soothing music session.
5. Address Your Problems
Yes, many things in this life are out of your control, and trying to control them can only contribute to your stress and later, insomnia. If you’re experiencing racing thoughts at night, try to focus on the source of these thoughts and address them. Acknowledging your problems can give you a sense of control over them and the power to change negative thoughts.
Experiencing racing thoughts at night can be a bit of an inconvenience but they don’t have to stay that way. It may feel hopeless to tackle something that seems out of your control but it’s not that challenging. With the right help and coping tips, you can stop racing thoughts at night and get the good night’s sleep you’re craving.
If you’re still experiencing insomnia or sleep problems, it is recommended that you consult a professional for diagnosis and treatment.
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