As a consensus, sleeping tends to be one of our favourite activities — and really, who can blame us? Unfortunately, though, something so magical can often be the hardest thing to get. It appears as though the act of shutting our brains off to get enough sleep is becoming progressively harder. The want (and need) for a solid eight hours plus turns into us scraping the barrel for six hours, with one sleep interruption at the least.
Luckily for all of us, there are easy ways to shut our brains off that require next to no effort.
Get Yourself A Pre-Bed Routine
We’re creatures of habit and ultimately, if we’re on the go and buzzing about before bed, this’ll become the norm. They key is being able to have certain activities you do before bed that help you wind down and make you sleepy. Reading (an actual book, none of that blue-light nonsense, peeps) is a great way to relax. Or maybe you’re into face masks and a bath? Regardless of the preferences, if it’s a relaxing venture and you make a habit of it before bed, your brain will start associating those activities with going to sleep.
Write Down Your Worries
Sometimes our mind gets a bit carried away with thoughts that render us sleepless. Granted, some anxiety provoking thoughts are legitimate, whether they’re about work, university or things as delicate as relationships. But let’s face it, we’ve also been kept up at night from reminiscing about that thing that kid said in fourth grade.
Whatever the case may be, writing down those worries before you hit the hay can help your brain take a (much) needed break. When going through these concerns, you can ask yourself what you’re doing about them and why they’re worrying you. As you’re going through the list, the items can be checked off if they’re being resolved, or if you’ve already handled ’em. This tactic can help create a sense of relief as well.
Exercise Your Brain
The art of distraction is a wondrous thing. Luckily for us, there are nifty brain exercises that we can do to draw our thoughts away from our worries long enough to get to sleep. These thought exercises can pretty much involve anything you like, you have free reign. Counting, listing vegetables (AKA all the avocados you want but can’t afford), even visualising sheep jumping over a fence (clichéd but effective) can help distract your brain and send it off to sleep.
If none of those are your thing, plug your headphones in and listen to something with a nice tune/sound and focus your attention on that. (I’m a big fan of some very low tempo, instrumental jazz right before bed, what of it?) These exercises can be taken a step further by adding deep breathing to the agenda (definitely recommended.) Eventually your mind will grow weary of focusing so heavily on the factors chosen that you’ll drift off without even realising.
Give Body Relaxation Exercises A Go
This exercise helps you to focus on each part of your body and detect any physical and emotional tension present. It may sound like a strange thing to do, but don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.
As you’re lying in bed, tense and relax each muscle group to release pent up energy. It’s best to start from your feet and work your way up to your head. By doing this you’ll be relaxed enough to have a restful sleep with less physical (and mental) tension. The additional element of being able to do this in the comfort of your bed with the lights off, makes it even more appealing.
Our brains literally work at thousands of miles per hour, and with all the regular stresses of life it can be pretty tough to switch off. If the lack of sleep, pent up thoughts or inability to switch off gets pretty constant, check out these tips from the guys at headspace to work on your sleep game. You got this.