Calming an Overactive Mind for Better Sleep with a Buffer Zone
Calming an overactive mind with a buffer zone is your key to better sleep and improved focus, energy, and efficiency.
Tossing and turning. Lying awake in bed staring at the ceiling. Thinking about all the stresses in your day. Or what you have to do tomorrow.
As you have probably experienced, there is nothing more frustrating than not being able to fall or stay asleep due to an overactive mind.
As a sleep and stress doctor, one of the top reasons I hear for poor sleep at night from my clients is not being able to shut off their active mind.
And when they can’t shut their mind off, this leads to more stress and worries about their ability to sleep. This then makes it even harder to sleep. What a frustrating cycle!
What if I told you there was a way to calm your overactive mind so you can fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and energetic to take on your day?
The good news is, this is very possible. And one of the best ways to do this is by creating a buffer zone.
Calming an Overactive Mind: Why is The Mind so Active Before Sleep?
It’s helpful to first understand why our mind is so active when trying to go to sleep so we can better understand the usefulness of the buffer zone.
During our busy work days, most of us are constantly on the go, going from work to our personal lives, family obligations, or other things we have going on without much time in between.
Because we are so busy during our day, we don’t have as much time to process the events, situations, and our thoughts from the day. We also may not have as much time to process and think through ways to set ourselves up for success in our next workday.
If we do not give the mind time to process these things during the day, guess when it is going to choose to process them…
That’s right, when you are exhausted and wanting to fall asleep.
Going to sleep is often the part of our day in which there are the least amount of distractions and there is the most quiet time.
Because there are the least amount of distractions from our thoughts when trying to go to bed, this is often when the mind will choose to be the most active and process information that was not previously processed.
Another reason that the mind is so active before sleep is because people often do not take the time to unwind and relax the body and mind for sleep.
If we are going straight from working or attending to other responsibilities and then trying to go right to sleep, this is not going to allow the body and mind time to rest and relax and prepare for sleep.
So, one of the best ways to calm an active mind at night is by creating a buffer zone.
A Buffer Zone for Calming an Overactive Mind
A buffer zone is the time before your desired bedtime that is designed to calm the body and mind.
As mentioned above, it is important to transition into sleep by engaging in activities that will prepare us for sleep.
Unlike machines, humans do not have an on/off switch that allows them to shut off the day and just go to sleep.
Most need a smoother transition so the mind can go from active and engaged, to calm and relaxed to be able to sleep deeply and restfully.
The buffer zone is designed to help clear the mind and relax the body so individuals can fall asleep and stay asleep with ease.
It is important to avoid stimulating and emotionally charged situations and information during this time, as that is likely to activate the mind.
It is important to process emotionally charged situations and thoughts earlier in the day to also calm the mind, but the buffer zone specifically is a time for rest, relaxation, and inducing sleepiness.
How to Create a Buffer Zone for an Overactive Mind
Consider the following steps to help you create a buffer zone to calm the mind and body for restful sleep:
Select Your Buffer Zone Time
Ideally, your buffer zone is 30 to 60 minutes before your designated bedtime.
If you are wanting to go to sleep around 11 PM, then starting your buffer zone between 10:00 PM and 1030 PM is ideal.
If you do not have a full 30 minutes, try to at least set aside some time for your buffer zone.
Power Off Devices
It’s helpful to power off devices during your buffer zone. Blue light from television, tablets, and phones can disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm, making it hard to fall asleep.
Specifically, blue light can interfere with the effects of melatonin, the hormone responsible for darkness and inducing sleepiness.
If it is not possible to power off devices for some reason, use the dim light settings on your devices or try blue light glasses.
Choose Relaxing Activities
The buffer zone is a great time to engage in activities that you find relaxing.
This may include reading a print book, listening to music, light stretching, drawing, or anything else that you find relaxing.
Avoid Stimulating Topics and Information
It is important to avoid overly stimulating topics and information from news, social media, or other media sources during this time.
The purpose of the buffer zone is to calm and relax the mind, so digesting upsetting or overstimulating information is not recommended.
Also make sure to avoid any work-related tasks during your buffer zone.
Engage the Deep Relaxation Response
One of the best ways to prepare the mind and body for sleep and to make the most of your buffer zone is to engage in deep relaxation exercises.
This can include deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation exercises.
Deep breathing helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the system responsible for rest and relaxation. This helps bring down stress and make it easier to fall and stay asleep.
Progressive muscle relaxation especially has been shown to help prepare the body and mind for sleep.
This exercise works to relax muscles throughout the entire body, helping both the mind and body relax. The more relaxed the body, the easier it will be to fall and stay asleep.
There is nothing more frustrating than an overly active mind that prevents us from getting the quality sleep that we need to take on the next day with energy, focus, and confidence.
Training the body and mind to successfully transition from our busy day to sleep with a buffer zone is one of the best ways to calm an overactive mind and improve sleep quality.
Follow the tips above to start sleeping like a baby so you can wake up ready to take on your day and work efficiently.
Sick of poor sleep getting in the way of your energy, focus, and mood? My Master Stress Method has helped hundreds of busy professionals improve their sleep, reduce stress, and significantly increase efficiency and performance.
Book a quick, 15-minute chat so we can take about how you can take back your life, next.
---About Dr. Julia
Hi! I'm Dr. Julia. Health psychologist, stress and sleep expert, and creator of the Master Stress Method.
I have worked with thousands of individuals in major hospitals, university medical centers, and primary care settings to improve their stress levels, sleep, and overall emotional and physical well being.
My current focus is helping busy professionals prevent and manage the high stress that is getting in the way of their productivity, mood, sleep, and their ability to reach their full potential.
My Master Stress Method has helped hundreds of stressed out, overwhelmed, and burned out clients significantly reduce their stress and anxiety, improve their sleep, and maximize their productivity, in weeks.
I can't wait to help you stop the struggle with stress, for good. Let's chat :)