woman with a racing mind wondering how to go to sleep

How to go to sleep when your mind won’t stop racing – 10 things to try

By Jason Wooden, PhD | October 5, 2018

Have you ever laid in bed wide awake, your mind racing, and desperately wondering how to go to sleep?  It’s just about one of the most frustrating experiences in life.

You know you need to get rest, but instead you slowly watch the hours pass by.

Well, you’re in good company as there are some pretty impressive people who have done the same.  Sir Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Vincent Van Gogh, and Winston Churchill all had battles with insomnia.

In fact, millions of people struggle with insomnia every night.  For many, the culprit is stress and anxiety.

Strictly speaking, anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease.

Worldwide 1 in 3 people suffer from anxiety.

There are many reasons for a racing mind – everyday stress, worry about the future, or perhaps you’re get too excited about something cool happening the next day.  You may also be feeling depressed or suffer from an anxiety disorder.

And sometimes you just get too wired up worrying about getting sleep…

Regardless of the cause, the impact of a runaway mind at bedtime is the same:  an awful night and a long miserable day.

And we now know lots about what happens to you and your body when you’re sleep deprived.  Your brain doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to which makes it hard to function at school or on the job.

If this happens night after night, then you put yourself at risk for other unwanted health issues such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, obesity, depression, and dementia.

So, it’s really important to figure out how to go to sleep when you can’t stop your mind from racing.

Do you have an anxiety disorder?

  • Feeling restless or on edge
  • Easily fatigued
  • Poor concentration
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Hard to stop worrying
  • Sleep problems

Learn more

Good News, You Have Options

Okay, now we finally get to the good news…

Today, we know so much more about the connection between stress, anxiety, and sleep.

There is so much more you can do to help calm your mind so that you’re more relaxed for sleep:

1) Practice good sleep hygiene

This is the foundation of good sleep.  It involves your practices during the day, at bedtime, and during the night.  If you neglect sleep hygiene, you could be sabotaging your chances for quality sleep.

Having a regular evening routine and calm environment can help you relax.  However, you should also see a sleep specialist as an underlying sleep disorder may be making things worse.   (Would you believe that 80 percent of sleep apnea cases in the US are undiagnosed?)

Sleep Hygiene Tips

  • Keep consistent wake up and sleep times
  • Avoid naps
  • Exercise during the day
  • Avoid large meals, alcohol, or stimulants such as caffeine before bedtime
  • Maintain a regular bedtime routine
  • Avoid using TVs, laptops, or other electronics before sleep
  • Keep your sleep environment dark, cool, quiet, and relaxing

Sleep Hygiene Tips

  • Keep consistent wake up and sleep times
  • Avoid naps
  • Exercise during the day
  • Avoid large meals, alcohol, or stimulants such as caffeine before bedtime
  • Maintain a regular bedtime routine
  • Avoid using TVs, laptops, or other electronics before sleep
  • Keep your sleep environment dark, cool, quiet, and relaxing

Sleep Hygiene Tips

  • Keep consistent wake up and sleep times
  • Avoid naps
  • Exercise during the day
  • Avoid large meals, alcohol, or stimulants such as caffeine before bedtime
  • Maintain a regular bedtime routine
  • Avoid using TVs, laptops, or other electronics before sleep
  • Keep your sleep environment dark, cool, quiet, and relaxing

2) Write it down

Worrisome thoughts can keep you from falling asleep.  Sometimes it helps to just get them off your mind by writing them down on paper.

3) Try white noise

A low-level constant noise can distract an anxious mind from troubling thoughts.  Try running a fan or a white noise machine.  (There are also phone apps for this.)

Check here for some white noise options

4) Listen to calming music

Soothing music such as a quiet classical track can sometimes help you relax.  Slow rhythm songs (60 to 80 beats per minute) have been shown in studies to help with sleep.

5) Try visualization

Visualization is a relaxation exercise that has been widely used to relieve stress.  It works by shifting your focus from anxious thoughts to peaceful imagery.

Learn more

6) Breathing exercises

Simple breathing exercises are another way to calm the mind and activate the body’s natural relaxation response.

Learn more

7) Meditation

Meditation is another way to turn off the chatter of the mind.  Techniques such as mindfulness meditation involves focusing on your breathing and keeping your awareness on the present moment.

Learn more

8) Yoga

A little gentle stretching in the evening has been found to help relax the body and mind.  You may want to try yoga which combines stretching with breath control.

Learn more

9) Natural Supplements

Natural remedies can help reduce anxiety and stress.  Chamomile, lavender, and valerian root preparations have been used for centuries.

Learn more

10) Talk to your doctor

You may be dealing with depression or an underlying anxiety disorder.  A specialist can really help with this.  Depending on your situation, they may recommend medication, counseling, or both depending on your situation.

Learn more

Summary: How to Go to Sleep With a Racing Mind

1) Many people suffer from anxiety and have sleep issues

2) Start with practicing good sleep hygiene

3) Check with a sleep specialist to see if a sleep disorder is making things worse

4) There are lots of things to try to help relax your mind

5) Get help from a specialist if you are dealing with depression or an anxiety disorder

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Important:  BetterSleepSimplified.com is for informational purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always consult a physician for sleep and health concerns.  See additional information.

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