How To Sleep When Your Mind Is Racing


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Practice Deep Breathing And Mindfulness

How To Get To Sleep When Your Mind Is Racing

Slow, deep belly breaths send a message of safety to the limbic system, Dr. Skillicorn says. Here’s why: Deep breathing turns off the sympathetic nervous system and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which allows the body to rest, digest and sleep, she explains.

While breathing, notice the belly fill and expand like a balloon as you inhale and contract and deflate as you exhale.

“As you do this, your mind will likely wander â that’s what minds do â but simply acknowledge the thinking and return to the breath again,” Dr. Skillicorn says.

It may be helpful to give the mind another focal point, Dr. Skillicorn adds. You can do this by counting the breaths or just saying to yourself “breathing in” as you inhale and “breathing out” as you exhale, she says.

Similarly, “whispering qigong healing sounds as you exhale like ‘haaaaa’ and ‘heeeee’ can also aid the body in letting go of emotional residue from the day,” Dr. Skillicorn says.

Experiment and see what combination of breathing and sounds works best for you.

Try these six types of breathing exercises that can help reduce stress.

Listen To A Podcast Soothing Sounds Deep Breathing Exercises Or Guided Meditations

What to do:

Tune into one of these 12 podcasts to help you turn off your mind at the end of a long dayincluded on the list are white noise programs, bedtime sleep stories, ASMR, and guided mindfulness meditations.

The science behind why its beneficial:

ASMR, which stands for autonomous sensory meridian response, is a sensation triggered by soft sounds. It originally gained popularity on YouTube, where youll find videos of people whispering, slowly and deliberately turning the pages of an old book, typing, or crinkling a bag of chips. Its a fairly novel concept, which means theres not ample clinical studies on it to date. However, what has been studied is promising, since its been shown to activate areas of the brain associated with calming hormones such as dopamine and oxytocin.

Racing Thoughts During Anxiety Attacks

You may also experience racing thoughts during anxiety attacks. Often these thoughts are about your health or wellness, and focused on the attack itself. Some people worry they’re going to die or panic over what they’re feeling, and it can feel very difficult to get those thoughts under control.

Unfortunately, waiting it out is the only option. Try to slow down your breathing so that your anxiety attack is less stressful, drink a bit of water, and see if there is someone you can call to take your mind off of the attack. Once the attack winds down, your thoughts should get back under control.

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How To Make A Mind Map

The idea behind a mind map is to get all of your ideas down on paper. People use mind maps for all kinds of brainstorming, but for now, were going to use it to work through a bigger issue.

  • Grab a a sheet of paper, and write your big issue in the center of the page. Circle your words. That circle is the center of your mind map.
  • As you think of things related to that issue, draw lines from the main problem circle, and add new circles. For example, if your problem was Too Much Debt, some of your new circles could be things like Credit Card Bills,Student Loans, and Too Much Spending.
  • Add new spokes to each of your sub-problems, and add in details.
  • Keep going until youve got the whole problem on paper. Include every last detail that youve been worrying about, even if it seems silly to write it down on paper.
  • Do not try to solve the problem tonight. Just know that youve got all of your ideas out on paper, and you can now visually see the issue youre worrying about.
  • Acknowledge that youve done all that you can tonight to work through this issue. Think of one thing you could do tomorrow to help you work through this issue. Even if its something super-small. Write it down on a to-do list and promise yourself that youll do it tomorrow.
  • If you havent already had a drink of water, get one.
  • Go back to bed.
  • Wishing you a more-peaceful night of sleep!

    Keep Your Bedroom Cool

    How to Get Sleep When Your Mind is Racing

    During sleep, our core body temperature dips, allowing us to slip into restorative REM and slow-wave sleep. A 2012 study from the Journal of Physiological Anthropology confirms that when we crank up the heat, we wake up more often and sleep less deeply. “Heat can delay sleep and lead to sleep fragmentation,” Ana Krieger, MD, medical director of the Weill Cornell Center for Sleep Medicine at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, tells Health. Keep the thermostat a couple degrees cooler than during the day68 degrees Fahrenheit is perfect, she says.

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    Here Are 8 Tips To Help You Go Back To Sleep

    1. Donât look at the clock. When you get tired of staring at the ceiling or switching sleep positions, itâs tempting to take a peek at the time. Resist the urge to check the clock. Sleep experts agree that watching the minutes pass sets off a worry cycle, keeping your brain more alert and stressing you out. It makes getting back to sleep that much harder. If youâve got a clock on your night table, turn it around .

    2. Try a relaxation exercise. There are several different types to choose from. Harneet Walia, MD, a physician at the Cleveland Clinic’s Sleep Disorders Center, suggests progressive muscle relaxation, a meditation-based technique. Starting with your toes and working up to your forehead, tightly tense each of your muscles for five seconds, and then slowly let them relax. Do one leg and one arm at a time, and pay special attention to areas of your body that hold tension, like your jaw and neck.

    Integrative health specialist Dr. Andrew Weil recommends a 4-7-8 breathing exercise, which he says serves as a ânatural tranquilizerâ for the nervous system, helping to ease you back to sleep. The goal is to slow down your breathing, which forces the rhythm of your heart to slow as well, relaxing the body and mind. To start, place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue behind your upper front teeth for the exercise. Then:

    Write Down Three Good Things

    Its not always easy to keep your spirits up during a challenging time, but a July 2019 study in Behavioral Medicine suggests that having an upbeat attitude can lead to longer and more restful sleep. Optimists are more apt to think about stressful situations with a positive, hopeful mindsetwhich translates to fewer of the ruminating, negative thoughts that interfere with our ability to sleep, Breus says.

    Youre probably familiar with mood-boosters like exercise, a healthy diet, hanging with friends, and meditation. But heres a suggestion from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley that you might not have heard of: Before bed, jot down three good things that happened to you that day, and how you contributed to each. This practice has been scientifically proven to help you harness a sunnier outlook after just one week.

    Oh, and while youre at it, make a to-do list for the next day. A small January 2018 study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests that this can put you on the fast track to snooze town. Hint: People who wrote longer and more specific to-do lists fell asleep faster than those who wrote shorter, more general ones, Breus says.

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    Do Progressive Muscle Relaxation

    As you lie in bed, tense and relax all of your muscles one by one, starting at your toes and ending at your head. Not only is this incredibly relaxing, as the name implies, but it also forces you to think about the physical parts of your body, directing your attention away from whatever thoughts or stressors youre fixating on, Breus says.

    Racing Thoughts At Night Can Create A Repetitive Loop

    9 Things To Do When You Cant Sleep Because Your Mind Is Racing | TIME

    As if a racing mind and insomnia werent bad enough, research shows they can trigger a negative loop. A June 2013 study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine suggests that on top of their regular concerns, people who have a tough time nodding off tend to worry about their lack of sleepwhich, of course, only makes things worse.

    In addition, a November 2019 study in Nature revealed that one sleepless night can cause emotional stress levels to increase up to 30%. When youre stressed, you don’t sleep well, and when you’re sleep-deprived, you get more stressed, Breus says. Its a cyclical relationship that feeds on itself.

    Why do repetitive thoughts make it so tricky to fall asleep? Anxiety activates the sympathetic nervous system, setting off a series of physical changes that boost your alertness and gear you up to act.

    When youre stressed, your body releases cortisol, the main stress hormone, Breus says. This coincides with glucose entering the bloodstream, which elevates your blood pressure. Soon, your muscles are tensing up, your heart is pumping, and your brain is working overtime.

    Its crucial to break this loop.

    Dont worryweve got your back!

    Also Check: How To Improve Mental Health

    Channel Your Inner Yogi

    Many people say yoga helps them sleep better. Try âchildâs poseâ at bedtime. Kneel on the floor with your big toes together. Separate your knees the width of your hips, and sink your chest to your thighs. Let your forehead touch the ground. Have hip or knee issues? Try âcorpse poseâ instead. Lie on your back, legs apart and arms relaxed at your sides. Exhale and feel yourself sink into the ground. Stay in either pose for 3-5 minutes.

    Repeat A Word Or Do A Mental Puzzle

    One of the early, but effective solutions to overthinking and intrusive thoughts in bed is called âarticulatory suppression,â in which you would mouth a word at a rate that makes thinking about any other thought difficult â usually 3 to 4 times a second.

    The underlying psychology is complex, but the theory is that mouthing a word requires a lot more mental power than just thinking it and the use of that mental power causes a blocking of the original intrusive thought. Choices of word for this method include:

    • the word âtheâ2
    • a nonsense syllable
    • a proper name .

    The only requirement is that it has no emotional significance to you . You can also extend the technique by:

    • accompanying the word you use with a visualisation of a shape, like a triangle or square. This is particularly useful if your intrusive thoughts have a visual component.7
    • adding a puzzle element, such as counting back from 1000 in certain âjumpsâ e.g. 1000, 993, 986, using âjumpsâ of 7 in addition to using a word, image or syllable.

    Since everyone is different, it might take a few goes to find a process which works for you.

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    Beauty Sleep: How A Good Night’s Rest Helps Your Appearance

    One of the best tools for healthy, youthful skin can’t be found in a jar. Here’s why sleep is one of the best things you can do for your look.

    Reviewed by:

    Troy Mensen, DO

    Troy Mensen is a family medicine doctor based in Chicago. He received his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine and holds a certification in family medicine from the American Board of Family Medicine. He is licensed by the State of Illinois Medical Examining Board.

    Nasha Addarich Martínez


    Nasha is a health and wellness editor at CNET. She is a nutrition and mental health enthusiast who is passionate about incorporating mindful practices to her daily life. Throughout her career, she’s covered various topics including financial services, technology and travel.

    When you think about all the things that affect your skin, sleep isn’t usually the first thing to come to mind. You may have heard that quality sleep is essential for our overall well-being, but did you know that it’s also a big factor that impacts our appearance? However, it’s not always easy for us to get those recommended seven to nine hours of beauty sleep. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders. Inadequate sleep not only impacts your mental and physical health, but even your physical features like hair, eyes and skin.

    So, what does poor sleep do to your appearance and health? Here’s what we know.

    Impact Of Poor Sleep On Your Mind

    6 Ways To Deal When Your Mind Is Racing At Night

    Studies show that sleep deprivation can affect memory function and emotional stability, as well as impair decision-making skills. Poor sleep can hurt your performance at work, lead to mood swings and enhance emotions like anger and sadness.

    Data from a 2021 study found that people ages 50 through 60 who got 6 hours or less of sleep were at greater risk of developing dementia. Those who got less sleep than the recommended seven hours, were 30% more likely to be diagnosed with dementia later in life than those who got the recommended hours of sleep.

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    What Causes Problems With Sleep

    The things that affect our sleep differ for everyone. They can include:

    • stresses or worries for example, issues with money, housing or work
    • problems with where you sleep for example, if you sleep somewhere uncomfortable or you’re easily disturbed
    • health conditions relating to sleep, also known as sleep disorders
    • being a parent or carer

    For more information about sleep disorders, see the Mental Health Foundation and Royal College of Psychiatrists websites, and our list of useful contacts.

    “It’s not possible to relax if you don’t have anywhere comfortable and safe at night. This leads to not sleeping and worrying most of the night.”

    If problems with sleep are worrying you or affecting your day to day life, it’s a good idea to see a doctor who can give you a health check and help you access treatment and support. If you fill in a sleep diary, you could take this to your appointment to show your doctor.

    “My sleep problems are more a case of bedtime procrastination than insomnia as such and, as a consequence, being too tired the next morning. I still haven’t found out what works for me as I can get to sleep once I do get to bed.”

    Take Something For Sleep

    It can be hard to fall asleep no matter what you do. The only thing you can do is take something to help you sleep. Many people turn to Melatonin or other over the counter sleeping pill products. People are also now choosing things like Konas red varieties of kratom to help relax them and improve sleep quality naturally.

    If you dont want to rely on pharmaceuticals or kratom, CBD is a good alternative. Check out top CBD oil product options for helping with sleep and insomnia as well.

    Also Check: Nami National Alliance On Mental Illness

    Dont Lie Awake In Bed

    This can be a very frustrating problem that seems to become worse the more you think about it. Its imperative that you break this vicious cycle of poor sleep and worry about not sleeping. For this reason, we recommend avoiding lying awake in bed. If you havent nodded off within 20 minutes of putting your head on the pillow, get up. Go back to your relaxing activity journaling, reading, meditation, listening to musicThen, when you begin to feel sleepy, try to go back to bed.

    This CBTi technique is called stimulus control. It may sound counter-productive, but many people find that engaging in a relaxing activity outside of bed helps occupy the brain in a positive way. This works to break the negative association that insomniacs and restless sleepers often develop in relation to bedtime.

    Slow Your Breath Slow Your Mind

    Mind Racing At Night? Here’s How to Calm Down and Get To Sleep.

    With your breath, you have a ready-made tool to relax your body and slow down the thoughts that keep you awake. Try this: Place a hand on your heart and feel its rhythm. Breathe in deep for 4 seconds, then take a long, slow breath out. Repeat this pattern until you can feel your heartbeat slow down. Your thoughts should soon ease up as well.

    Read Also: Northern Virginia Mental Health Institute

    Ways To Stop Racing Thoughts At Night And Get To Sleep

    It’s like clockwork: Every night, your head hits the pillow, and your brain starts spinning. Whether you’re wide awake worrying about work, finances, family or something else, this bedtime ruminating routine can ruin your sleep.

    Video of the Day

    And you’re not alone. A whopping 45 percent of Americans report that stewing in stress sabotages their shut-eye, according to the 2017 âStress in Americaâ survey by the American Psychological Association.

    We spoke with Jodie Skillicorn, DO, a holistic psychiatrist and author of âHealing Depression Without Medication: A Psychiatrist’s Guide to Balancing Mind, Body, and Soul,â to learn why anxious thoughts amplify at night and how we can combat them for sounder sleep.

    Try To Go To Bed Around The Same Time Every Night Even On Weekends

    Each of us are equipped with a 24-hour internal body clock known as our circadian rhythm that tells our mind when to rest and when to be alert, but it craves consistency, says Bill Fish, a sleep science coach and general manager at The Sleep Foundation.

    If you made a concerted effort to go to bed within a 20-minute window each night, get your 8 hours of sleep, and wake within the same 20-minute window each morning, you will gradually train your body, and will make it much easier to get to sleep each night, especially when dealing with anxiety, Fish says.

    Its important to wake up at the same time every day too, even if you have a bad nights sleep.

    We often think we should catch up on sleep over the weekend or if we have a bad night of sleep, says Annie Miller, a licensed social worker and behavioral sleep medicine provider based in Washington, D.C. But in fact, that can make insomnia worse by creating whats called social jetlag.

    It is important to keep your wake time consistent and understand that you may be tired in the short term, but this will build up sleep drive and eventually allow you to fall asleep faster, she explains.

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