You’ve been dreaming about going back to bed since you got up that morning. So, when you finally climb into your comfy bed, you’re excited to lay down your weary head and drift off to the land of nod.
But just as you’re falling asleep, a thought pops into your mind: “Did you remember to book that appointment?” Then another: “What did my friend mean by that when she said I looked ‘tired’ today?”
All of a sudden, you find yourself in an anxiety spiral and you’re thinking about that time 5 years ago when you complimented someone on their ‘new hair colour’ only to learn they were going grey. Now, sleep seems like a faraway possibility.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
In a time where we’re all juggling a million things and are surgically attached to our phones, it’s no surprise that anxious thoughts before bed is a common experience.
Mary Hoang, Founder and Principal Psychologist at Sydney-based sleep clinic The Indigo Project shares 5 relaxing strategies for calming an overactive mind before bed.
1. Write it down
Before you go to bed, write down your worries and separate them into two spheres: things that are in your control and things that aren’t. Put your mind at ease by creating actions for the things you can control, and don’t give things out of your control a second thought.
2. Try 4-7-8 breathing
This yogic breathing technique is a great way to focus the mind and switches on the parasympathetic nervous system, our relaxation response. Breathe in for four seconds, hold for seven seconds and breathe out for eight seconds. Repeat this technique for a few minutes and notice relaxation ripple through your body.
3. Listen to audiobooks for a relaxing bedtime story
Remember how nice it was for someone to read you a bedtime story, or when teachers used to read to you at school? It’s never too late for a bedtime story. Hop into bed, pop on some headphones or power up your smart home speaker, set the Audible Sleep Timer, find a story with a soothing voice and let go.
4. Protect yourself from second-hand stress during the day
Having a good night’s sleep starts with what you do (or don’t do) during the day to manage your stress. Research has shown that we pick up uncertainty and stress just by observing people that are stressed. If you work next to a stress head, it may be time to shift desks, or to move somewhere where they aren’t in your line of view.
5. Get out of bed
If you find yourself tossing and turning for more than 20 minutes, get out of bed and head into another room. Staying in bed for too long when you can’t sleep trains the brain that the bed is associated with ‘not sleeping’. Activities to do while out of bed? Something calming like reading, meditating, or listening to an audiobook is best.
Australians who are on the lookout for their next bedtime read but aren’t sure where to start can visit audible.com.au/sleep to find a curated list of audiobooks perfect for relaxing before sleep or learning more about good sleep practices.
This article was written by Emma Norris and originally published on A Girl In Progress.