In our sleep series, we have explored many practical ways to improve sleep. Today let’s look more deeply into the mental and emotional aspects of good sleep.
When we are very busy during the day, we tend to slump in front of electronics such as phones and TV’s at night. While this can seem to be relaxing at first, it can make it harder to sleep well when we actually go to bed. Late night can be a time when worries invade our thoughts.
It’s important to distinguish between things that are within our control and things that are out of our control. Most worries are about things we can’t control at least not in the moment. Some people find that prayer can help them to “give their worries over”, meditation to quiet their minds, and relaxation techniques.
Many people use journaling get their thoughts and feelings out. Others love a gratitude journal which doesn’t address the worries head on, but can really help you to focus on the positive thoughts which bring positive emotions.
Here is a thought stopping technique that is surprisingly effective for some but not all people: Assign yourself 1-2 times a day for worrying. If worrisome thoughts come at other times, say to yourself “I’ll think about that at 7:00” and let the thought go. At the assigned periods, stop and let yourself worry for about 10 minutes. In time you may find that you “forget” to worry more and more.
Consider therapy if you are dealing with anxiety or chronic stress. With online therapy being more common these days, you don’t even have to leave your home to talk to a therapist.
Lastly, distracting yourself with reading can be a wonderful way to fall asleep as long as it is not on an electronic device with blue light. Consider a good old fashion book that will fall out of your hand as you nod off to dreamland.