How to Stop Mind Chatter for Better Sleep
Learn how to stop mind chatter at night to fall asleep faster and improve your sleep quality, mood, and stress levels.
You've had a long day. You're mentally and physically drained. You can't wait to get into bed and get some sleep.
As soon as you get into bed, boom go the thoughts in your mind:
“What am I doing tomorrow?”
“Is my friend mad at me?”
“That was such a stupid mistake I made at work today”
“Why did I decide this career path”
“What if I bomb this meeting tomorrow”
The list goes on. Ugh!
Sound familiar? There is nothing more frustrating than trying to get to sleep and instead have your mind race with various thoughts and chatter.
Not only is this frustrating, but it makes it hard to get the quality sleep needed for high energy, productivity, and positive mood the next day.
I have good news. We can break this irritating cycle and get the quality sleep that will allow you to be the best version of yourself.
We do this by:
1) Understanding why our minds get so chatty and active at night
2) Learning how to stop mind chatter at night so you can sleep much better and take your day by storm
How to Stop Mind Chatter: The Basics of An Active Mind at Night
Before we talk about how to stop mind chatter at night, let’s talk about why our mind is so active at night. During our busy days, we are constantly on the go. This means that we are usually jumping from one task to the other, without a lot of down time to process what is going on.
Meetings. Presentations. Family obligations. Trying to fit in social time. The list goes on.
On the flipside, when we lay down to go to bed, this is a time of the day when there is not much else going on and things are quiet around us. Naturally, this is when the mind will get active and try to process everything from the day.
A large part of managing stress and staying productive is being able to process the events of the day, examine our goals, and also manage anything particularly stressful or upsetting. If we do not make time for this, then all these cognitive processes will happen at night.
And guess what is not happening – sleep.
When our sleep is negatively impacted because we can’t fall asleep, this makes it difficult to get the quality sleep that we need to feel energetic and productive the next day. This can result in a very frustrating cycle.
The Role of High Stress and Anxiety
When stress and anxiety are poorly managed, it is common for the mind to race with anxious thoughts especially. This often involves hypothetical and worst-case scenarios, and often start with the phrase “what if.” Quiet time is often a breeding ground for anxious thoughts, especially if stress and anxiety are poorly managed.
These thoughts especially can negatively impact sleep since when anxiety is activated, the mind becomes more active, and the body becomes less relaxed due to activation of the sympathetic nervous system.
To fall asleep and stay asleep, the mind and body need to be calm and relaxed. Since anxiety activates the body and mind, this can also make it difficult to fall asleep and often leads to further mind chatter and activity.
Managing Stress is How to Stop Mind Chatter before Bed
There are many reasons for mind chatter, and one of the biggest culprits is poorly managed stress and anxiety. When the fight or flight response gets activated, a series of physiological changes follow, including increased heart rate and blood pressure, muscle tension, and shallow and rapid breathing.
Those who experience chronic stress and anxiety will have greater activation of these symptoms.
Ever tried to sleep when you are feeling tense and wound up? I’m guessing you probably were not very successful. That is because sleeping when the body and mind are activated is very difficult.
Not only do high stress and anxiety cause physiological symptoms, but they also often cause our mind to race with a series of stress thoughts that further increase stress and anxiety and these physical symptoms of anxiety.
Once the stress response gets activated, the mind tends to get more activated as well, resulting in unhelpful thoughts.
Stress and anxious thinking specifically will involve worst case scenario themes, negative hypotheticals about the future, and other upsetting thoughts. This will differ from general thoughts that are not necessarily negative or worst-case scenarios.
Once the anxious thoughts get going, it can be very difficult to slow them down. The more activated the mind, the harder it is to sleep.
So, managing stress is the key to success in quieting the mind for quality sleep.
3 Helpful Ways to Quiet Mind Chatter for Better Sleep
Because managing stress is the key to quieting the mind chatter for better sleep, using a combination of strategies to quiet the mind and body is useful. Deep relaxation exercises and externalizing worry thoughts are helpful strategies to quiet both the mind and body.
One of the best ways to counteract the physiological changes of the stress response is to activate the parasympathetic nervous system with deep breathing.
Deep breathing decreases heart rate and blood pressure, reduces muscle tension, improves breathing, and helps quiet the mind.
Engaging in deep breathing for 5 to 10 minutes at night can be a useful strategy for both decreasing stress and anxiety and preparing the body and mind for sleep.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Another helpful way to counteract the physiological symptoms of the stress response is with progressive muscle relaxation. This strategy is especially helpful for reducing muscle tension, which relaxes both the body and mind.
Spending 10 to 15 minutes before bed engaging in progressive muscle relaxation can be very helpful for reducing mind chatter and falling asleep more quickly.
Externalizing is the processing of getting our thoughts out through writing, talking, or other methods. Externalizing worries is a useful strategy that allows us to get our thoughts out of our mind by writing them out, which helps with processing different thoughts and situations from the day.
This is a great strategy to utilize earlier in the evening to address any worries, concerns, or tasks that need to be completed. Setting aside 15 to 20 minutes to write out your worries with your coping plan for them can be very helpful to quiet the mind at night.
If we can process our thoughts earlier in the evening, the mind will be calmer and quieter at night when trying to sleep.
An overly active mind at night can be extremely frustrating and rob us of the quality sleep that is needed to take on our day with energy and motivation.
Learning to quiet an active mind is one of the best strategies to manage stress and anxiety and sleep better for improved attention, energy, and productivity.
Follow the tips shared above to gain control over your active mind and sleep much better!
Are you sick of racing thoughts keeping you up at night and causing anxiety? My signature 1:1 coaching program will help you reduce stress, sleep better, and greatly improve productivity in just 8 weeks.
Book a discovery call if you're ready to take charge of your life :)
------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 8-week, 1:1 coaching program 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 just 8 short weeks.
I can't wait to help you stop the struggle with stress, for good. Let's chat :)