Anxiety or any other mental stress can give birth to fast & repetitive racing thoughts. These troublesome thoughts can happen at any time when you are stressed or anxious, irrespective of any other symptoms.
Racing thoughts may come from flashback memories which reminds you of your anxiety or sadness. They may also arise out of future worries which might not have any conclusion.
What To Do Before Sleeping?
Hectic schedules may lead to poor sleep quality & poor sleep pattern. It gets difficult to spend a single second turning & tossing when you're already tired and sleeping like a baby is all what you want at the end of the day.
The easiest solution to this is to focus on improving your sleep quality as much as you can and indulge yourself into deep sleep practices to get a better night's sleep.
There's no shortcut or substitute for adequate sleep, but below are some action steps that can't be missed in order to get better sleep:
1. Set a schedule:
The first step towards getting better sleep & improved sleep quality is to stick to a fixed sleep routine even on holidays. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day makes it easy for the body to predict it's sleep time helping you fall asleep faster leading to better sleep quality. People nowadays are more likely to stay awake till late and eventually find it hard to cope with their day the next morning. The best way to go to bed at the same time without fail is to set an alarm to go to bed.
2. Check on your meals:
Your body is designed in a way that it has different time schedules for different activities. Therefore, digestion and sleeping can’t happen at the same time. Thus, it is important to keep a gap between your evening meal & bedtime or it is always better to avoid heavy meals at night and go with light meals instead.
There are a number of foods that promote sleep by optimizing the production of melatonin in your body. Warm milk, almonds, honey, and chamomile are some of the sleep-inducing foods that act as a sleep aid when you have trouble sleeping.
You all are aware of the fact that consuming caffeine sometime later in the day can affect your good night’s sleep but did you know alcohol consumption can also take away your peaceful sleep? Having a hard drink may make you feel drowsy at bedtime, but it will lead to a disturbing second half of your night. So, it’s better to have it sometime before going to bed so that it’s out of your nervous system by the time you go to sleep.
4. Power down your devices:
The blue light coming out of your mobile phones & laptops can make it difficult to fall asleep so it’s better to keep them away at least an hour before going to bed.
5. Set the environment:
The body’s ideal sleep temperature is cool, dark & quiet. So, try to get rid of all the noise & lights when you’re about to hit the sack. A comfortable bed and mattress also play an important role when it comes to a good night’s sleep.
6. Follow a night ritual:
Your body and mind need a signal that it’s time to sleep, so indulging in some calming & relaxing actions that act as a natural switch-off may help your body relax and rest. A few of such calming activities are reading, taking a hot shower, etc. A fall after the rise in body temperature promotes drowsiness and helps you sleep faster.
Following a fixed sleep schedule is a good habit to have but there’s no need to panic or stress in case you’re not sleepy at your regular time. If you’re finding it difficult to sleep, try involving yourself in some relaxation activities. Staring at your clock at night will only make you anxious and make it harder for you to sleep.
Right after knowing what you should do in order to get a restful sleep at night, let’s discuss more about those racing thoughts that don’t let you sleep even when you’re tired the most.
Racing thoughts are just the result of our insecurities and over-thinking. Random thoughts in the middle of the night like thinking about a job opportunity that you were getting 6 months ago or thinking about something which might happen 5 years from now are some of the examples of these thoughts that might trouble you impairing your memory and sleep. But you can eliminate these racing thoughts from your mind by going into a deep sleep. Let’s talk about some ways which can help you get better sleep at night while making your mind calm & relaxed.
5 Things To Do Before Sleeping
1. Cognitive Thinking
Putting a full stop to your racing thoughts and letting your mind relax and calm for some time should be a daily practice that can help you sleep peacefully at night. Thinking about vague scenarios that may or may not happen often leads to disturbed sleep, causing restless nights.
2. Chanting A Mantra
A mantra is a calming phrase or a word that helps calm your mind. Research has shown that chanting a mantra helps reduce activity in your mind responsible for self-judgment. This part of the brain spends a lot of time thinking about the past & worrying about the future. Repeating a mantra helps bring your mind back to the focus and stops it from wandering here and there. There is no specific time to do this and you can repeat this at any time of the day, be it going to a supermarket or on your way to the office.
3. Sticking to the present
Focusing on your present helps you accept what is happening and let go of what you cannot control. It also helps you realize that you cannot change what has already happened in the past and you do not have any control over the future; which hasn’t even come yet. So, it is a waste of time thinking about things that you can’t control. It is better to always ask yourself how you are feeling at the moment.
4. Making a journal
Penning down your issues helps you return back to them later. This means you haven’t gotten rid of them entirely and you can relax knowing that you can return to those concerns later. Also, writing things help keep your mind engaged and reduces the power of racing thoughts. Random thoughts are often chaotic but writing them on a piece of paper helps organize them. Once you have written down your thoughts somewhere, it helps make your mind calmer.
Breathing helps relax your mind and nervous system. It helps your mind to take a pause when you are stuck in a chaotic situation. Try counting to 3 while you breathe in and to 5 while you breathe out. Stop your wandering thoughts and bring them back to breathing to calm down.
Developing new habits may be a time-taking process. Whichever route you take, you should keep in mind that it will take some time and consistency to see results. People often expect the results to be too soon and drop the practice at an early stage. But being consistent and patient is what that is required in order to see the results. And if your racing thoughts are not under control after all these practices, then it is always better to reach out to an expert or a doctor. Anxious thoughts can be a result of mental health disorders and can have some serious effects.
Replays of our past life events, missed opportunities, and regrets often keep us distracted during the day & keep us awake during the night. Thoughts like these often flood your mind with negative energy and drain the positive energy out of it creating a loop and making it difficult for the mind to escape. These can also hamper your concentration level making it difficult for you to concentrate, recall and memorize things. Racing thoughts may disturb you because they create a sense of being out of control. But it is not actually a fact as they don’t get you out of control but make you anxious and increase your stress levels. And if you feel your racing thoughts are not under control then you must consult a doctor as constant anxious thoughts can lead to serious mental health issues.