How to Keep Your Mind Calm Before Bed
Learn how to keep your mind calm at night so you can fall and stay asleep better and wake up feeling refreshed, energetic, and ready to take on your day.
You've had a long day. You're exhausted from everything you did today and not being able to sleep well the night before. You can't wait to finally get into bed and fall asleep.
There’s just one problem – as soon as you get into bed, your thoughts start to race about all kinds of topics:
The work project you haven’t finished.
The disagreement you had with your significant other.
All the things that you have to do tomorrow.
Now you’re stressed and frustrated that you are unable to fall asleep, yet again.
If this is you, you are certainly not alone. I’m an insomnia doctor, and one of the top reasons I see people struggle to fall asleep at night is difficulty calming their mind.
Learning to calm your mind before bed is a big key to improving your sleep quality, decreasing stress, and waking up ready to take on your day.
And one of the best ways to do this is by externalizing.
How to Keep Your Mind Calm: Externalize
Externalizing is the process of getting our thoughts, feelings, and assumptions out of our head. This can be accomplished by talking with others or writing out our thoughts to get them out of our head.
Externalizing by writing out our thoughts is a form of journaling, a helpful method for improving mood, decreasing stress, and improving sleep quality.
Externalizing our thoughts (rather than thinking about them in our head) is important because when we think about stressful or upsetting topics in our mind, we are more likely to ruminate, get more upset, and think in unhelpful and unhealthy ways.
When we process situations in our mind, our thoughts often race, making it hard to feel calm and relaxed for sleep.
Sometimes, our thoughts may race with our to-do-list for the next day, also making it harder to fall asleep.
Once we start thinking about all the things we need to do, this may also increase stress and tension, further interfering with sleep.
This in turn can lead to tossing and turning, thinking, and worrying instead of sleeping. So frustrating.
One of the best ways to calm the mind before bed is to externalize the things on your mind, whether it is something stressful or upsetting, or simply a list of things you need to do.
These Exercises are How to Keep Your Mind Calm
There are various externalizing exercises that are helpful for processing what is on our mind. The following two exercises can be especially helpful for clearing the mind at night for quality sleep.
1. Setting a Worry Time
Setting a worry time is a form of externalizing that is especially helpful if there are stressful or upsetting things on your mind. This involves setting aside 15 to 30 minutes where you write out each worrisome or stressful thought one at a time, followed by your action or coping plan.
By getting the worries out of your mind and addressing them, stress is lowered and sleep is improved.
2. Create a To-Do List for Next Day
One of the best ways to clear the mind for improved sleep is to make a to-do list or action plan for the next day.
Research has indicated that spending 5 to 10 minutes planning out the next day and prioritizing tasks helps people fall asleep faster and stay asleep better.
Set aside 5 to 10 minutes to map out your day. Make sure that this is not right before bed, since thinking about your to-do list right before bed can activate your mind and make it difficult to fall asleep.
Avoid Stimulation at Night to Keep Your Mind Calm Before Bed
In addition to externalizing your thoughts, it is also important to avoid stimulation at night if you want to keep your mind calm before bed.
Consider the activities that stimulate and activate your mind.
For many, thinking about work can result in an overly active mind before bed. So, it is important to make sure that you are shutting off work at a reasonable time that allows you the proper time to create a buffer zone to calm the mind.
It’s also helpful to avoid thinking about stressful topics close to bedtime. Avoidance of stressful topics completely is not helpful, so utilize the externalizing worry strategy explained above to help you process upsetting or triggering topics, earlier in the evening.
It’s also helpful to monitor the type of media that you are consuming close to bedtime. Keep an eye on what you are watching, reading, and consuming on the television and through various media and social media outlets.
While staying informed about what is going on is helpful, reading about catastrophic world events or other upsetting topics close to bedtime is not particularly useful if you want to sleep well at night.
One of the best ways to calm your mind for quality sleep is by externalizing your thoughts, worries, and to-do list items.
If you struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep due to an active mind, follow the strategies discussed today to externalize and avoid stimulation to help you clear your mind.
A great night's sleep is your key to waking up feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to take on your day.
Sick of an overly active mind keeping you from sleeping at night? My Master Stress Method will help you improve your sleep, reduce your stress levels, and wake up ready to take on your day.
Book a discovery call so we can talk about how you can take charge of your life, now. I can’t wait to help you 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 less than 8 weeks.
I can't wait to help you stop the struggle with stress, for good. Let's chat :)