How to stop racing thoughts and sleep better
“Don't believe your racing thoughts.”
- Maria Erving
Do you struggle to sleep at night with millions of racing thoughts? You didn’t want to check social media, but overwhelmed with anxiety and concerns you find yourself scrolling down the endless loop that is Instagram.
I feel you.
I, too, once experienced those restless nights in both positive and negative light. However, what used to keep me awake wasn’t the late night screens and drinking. But rather, my mind accelerated at 100 mph to ponder what could have, should have, and would have.
So, here’s a quick hack to put your mind at peace. And possibly, guide you through the mental trenches of personal insecurities.
Let’s dive in 🌊
1. The Power of Music (no ear buds)
“Music, once admitted to the soul, becomes a sort of spirit, and never dies.”
- Edward Bulwer Lytton
Music works. But it must be utilized strategically.
According to many research, music “has a direct effect on the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps your body relax and prepare for sleep. Older adults who listen to 45 minutes of relaxing music before bed fall asleep faster, sleep longer, wake up less during the night, and rate their nights as more restful than when they don’t listen to music”.
But there’s a catch. Most of us plug in sharp ear buds and fall down the rabbit hole of what we call, YouTube and video streaming. So, how can we listen to music without staying up all night and worry about some ear disease? Here’s what worked for users of our neuroscience social habit app, braintingle (app).
How to properly use music to fall asleep
Avoid earbuds that goes too deep (preferably a headphone)
Choose a soothing playlist or a compilation (no heart racing tunes)
Once you start to listen, don’t search!
If you can incorporate the above steps into a sleep routine like reading for 30 minutes before bed, it’ll do wonders for you.
Knowledge is power. A power to put you to sleep.
If music is too stimulating for you and it’s hard to find or create a playlist, long podcasts are excellent alternatives. Over the last few years, sleep podcasts have exploded in popularity. So, there's plenty of sleep dedicated conversations that aren’t over the top.
What if you don’t want a sleep dedicated podcast?
That’s fine. “Maybe your always-on brain needs to be tricked into relaxation. Maybe you're lonely and feel soothed by the unique intimacy of podcasts. Or maybe, podcasts bring you back to childhood, drifting off to the sound of far-away voices talking about stuff you don't need to worry about.”
History, philosophy, space. Whatever makes you feel relaxed and “just enough intrigued”.
3. Zone out
"You look bored. Let me take you to a better place."
Our moms (or dads) have told us since we were children.
“Stop zoning out honey”
It’s been engineered into us to encourage focus and be better behaved (in their eyes). But that’s the exact reason we can’t stop racing thoughts.
For example, a “research published in the journal Psychological Science shows that we engage in what the researchers call creative incubation during mind-wandering.” When we mentally drift, “our brains continue sorting out the tough challenge in the background”. That back-end processing helps the brain reset to take in new information and store the old.
Ever felt a “pulsing” feeling in the brain when meditating or just daydreaming? That’s a good example of zoning out.
How and When to Zone Out
Next time you wake up, walk up to the window and stare mindlessly.
If you don’t have a window to leverage, just stare at a tree until you get bored.
Don’t check your device
At least 10 minutes
Music – Podcast – Zone Out
“Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.” -Swedish Proverb Here’s the recap
Listen to relaxing, controlled tunes to sleep
Podcasts with just enough stimulation is perfect for resting your brain
Take a time out and zone out
Start with the above to reduce racing thoughts. And if you can add some physical exercise into your daily routine, you’ll be able to de-clutter your complex thoughts in no time. Now go break bad habits with braintingle
How to stop procrastination on YouTube: No more watching useless videos.
Podcast (knowledge podcast)