Let’s talk about the five things you can do when you can’t sleep and you have a racing mind.
So before we get into these five things, it’s important to mention that you should have a place. We’re going to talk about a plan, but you should have a place. Place and plan, very important. A place should be something outside of your bedroom and your bed.
So if you’re awake for longer than 20 minutes, then you want to remove yourself from the bed and bedroom. Because you don’t want to anchor hyper-arousal, restlessness, stress to your bed. Now, you don’t want to look at the clock, so just kind of estimate it. It’s not a perfect … 20 minutes, okay, let’s go.
You have to kind of feel it out. Remove yourself, but have that place in mind, a place that’s comfortable, low-lit, where you can go and then execute on what I’m about to share with you, which is your plan.
So number one, the first thing you could do is write your thoughts down. The reason why this is effective is because our mind moves a lot faster than our hands. So just the process of writing out your thoughts, your thinking starts to slow the mind down, which then puts the body more in a relaxed state and allows it to do what it knows how to do, which is sleep.
So I like to say when you get out of your own way, sleep happens, and writing your thoughts down can allow that to happen. Usually the thoughts that cause a racing mind, which causes us to then wake up are thinking about things that we need to do, we should have done, what we want to do. Just get it out of your head and on a notepad and pen is a really effective strategy and can be a very effective plan.
Number two is you could practice or try out what we call bed breathing. This is known as box breathing in other circles, but we call it bed breathing because it helps us sleep. And how you do this technique, it’s real simple. You just envision yourself laying in bed, and you inhale for a count of five, you hold for a count of five, you exhale throughout through your mouth for a count of five, and then you hold it for a count of five.
Now, it’s been shown that if you do this at least 12 times, it gets your body into the parasympathetic rest response, which then allows sleep to happen. So you could practice this. Now, you don’t want to be falling asleep somewhere where you’re practicing it. So when you start to feel sleepy after using this technique, then you just go ahead and get yourself back into bed and allow sleep to come.
Again, you don’t want to start to train the body that, okay, let’s wake up and then go somewhere and do this bed breathing, and then sleep the rest of the night, wherever that is, whether it’s a chair or a couch, you want to get that sleepiness activated and then you get back into bed. Really important to understand that.
Okay, third technique here. Great technique. I love this technique. It’s PMR, which stands for progressive muscle relaxation. And that’s exactly what you do, is you progressively relax your muscles. And how you do that, I mean, you can listen to a guided PMR meditation online. There’s a lot of them out there.
But essentially what you’re doing is you’re intentionally contracting body parts, and then relaxing or releasing those body parts. And again, what this does is it gets your mind off of whatever you’re thinking about, and it helps to push out that tension and pressure that often accompany companies a racing mind in the middle of the night. I put some links to our favorite PMR meditations. But very simple, very effective technique.
And again, we’re not ever using a technique so that we can sleep. And the reason why we don’t do that is because it has expectation attached to it. And sleep happens when we allow it to happen. You’re just doing these things to create the greatest opportunity for sleep to happen, not so that sleep happens. Really important distinction and reminder.
Number four, listen to Binaural beats. Binaural beats, there’s again, ton of free audios on this amazing channel, YouTube. Or the amazing platform called YouTube, not so much on my channel. Although in the future, maybe I’ll make some.
But essentially what Binaural Beats does is it harmonizes your brain frequencies to, again, put you in a relaxed state. And these can be very effective for certain types of auditory people. So you can try them out. And it’s really just listening to certain music that’s infused with these layers of audio. Which then, again, can put the body in a, or the brain I should say. Which then, the body follows the brain in a relaxed state for sleep to happen.
Okay, number five. Now, this is not a in the moment technique, but it absolutely should be part of your plan, if you’re someone that is struggling right now with this specific challenge. And we call it a MEB, or a mental energy break. And you want to make sure that you’re doing these throughout the day.
The reason is because we, throughout the day, build up tension and pressure in our minds and bodies, oftentimes not consciously. And it doesn’t mean you’re even having a stressful day. It could just be you’re focusing on a task. And that focus creates a buildup of this energy that needs to be discharged.
So mental energy breaks could look like taking a walk outside, walking your dog, hugging your partner, taking a breath, transitioning between tasks to another task, having a moment of space, a moment of presence between the task. Could be a little bit of breathing techniques. There’s a lot of different ways you can take mental energy breaks.
I like to get outside, personally. I take my dog for a walk, I maybe play with my dog a little bit. Sometimes I’ll sit down for a quick meditation. Usually it looks like getting a glass of water, going outside, doing something active and then getting back into the next task, whatever that might be.
You do that throughout the day, and now you don’t have so much tension and pressure that then leads you to wake up in the middle of the night, which is often the reason why most people wake up in the middle of the night.
So listen, I hope this was useful. And just to kind of recap, you have a plan and a place, you take action on a technique. Not so that you can sleep, but so that you can create the greatest opportunity for sleep to happen. If you like this, please like it. If you’re new here, subscribe. If this was valuable and you think somebody else you know needs to hear it, please share this with them. And until next time, sleep well.