Do you lay in bed at night tossing and turning because your mind is racing? Are you physically exhausted from your day but your mind won’t let you rest? Or maybe you are looking to clear your racing mind before sleep so you can actually fall asleep and therefore feel less anxious, more relaxed, and less stressed.
Having a healthy nighttime routine is one of the most effective steps you can take to improve your well-being, overall wellness, reduce your stress, integrate self-care, sleep soundly and wake up feeling great.
There have been many times in my life where I dreaded nighttime because my anxiety and depression would peak. I had a hard time relaxing and decompressing.
It was very difficult for me to try to sleep because my mind was like a hamster wheel and I could not for the life of me let my racing thoughts go.
Over time, I have learned the importance of having a nighttime routine which helps me clear my mind. As a result, I am able to sleep soundly and wake up feeling refreshed.
Most importantly, this routine keeps my anxiety and depression at bay.
In this article, I am going to share 10 ideas to clear your racing mind before you sleep. You can integrate these ideas to help improve your self-care, reduce your stress, and help you get a better night’s sleep.
1. Complete a relaxation exercise
At night, take a few minutes to relax your mind and body. These exercises help calm down your nervous system and help you feel more grounded.
During the day, your nervous system fluctuates between the sympathetic stress-response to the parasympathetic rest and digest response.
The best way to imagine this nervous system response is like a freeway.
At times during the day, you’re driving on the freeway and everything is going smoothly. All of a sudden, you have to slam on your breaks and you’re stuck in a traffic jam. Your heart is racing, you’re sweating and your body tenses up.
By the time the evening rolls around, imagine how many ups and downs your body has experienced that day.
The most simple way to complete a relaxation exercise to help clear your racing mind before you sleep is to do something like yoga, deep breathing exercises, a guided meditation, or prayer.
Any of these exercises help to relax your mind and activate your parasympathetic nervous system. Thereby making it easier for you to fall asleep and wake up feeling refreshed.
Although it’s important to do a relaxation exercise at night, it’s also important to do them during the day.
Practicing mindfulness and checking in with your body regularly will help you notice when you’re feeling overwhelmed and therefore encourage you to integrate self-care continuously.
2. Write in your gratitude journal
One of my self-care nighttime routines includes a gratitude practice of writing down 3 things that I’m grateful for.
This simple practice has made such a positive shift in my life. I have noticed major improvements in almost all areas of my life including my work, relationships, and health.
There are numerous benefits of having a regular gratitude practice. For one, gratitude remarkably creates chemical changes in your brain, which causes a positivity chain reaction and makes you smarter and happier.
Try this, take ten minutes before bed to write down a few things you are grateful for that day in a journal. You can use an app like Happyfeed. Once you make this a regular practice, you will notice that you begin looking for the positive things in your life.
As a result, you have less stress and feel more optimistic about your life. In addition, this practice helps clear your racing mind and lets you go sleep on a positive note.
3. Prepare your meals
Meal planning is a great activity, especially as part of your nighttime routine because you will have less stress, and eat more nutritiously.
You know that when you wake up in the morning, you have your overnight oats or a yogurt parfait all ready for breakfast. This helps you start the day off on a good note.
Research shows that meal planning and preparing can lead to having more variety in your diet, better food quality, and even weight loss. I also think meal planning helps because it prevents eating or snacking when you’re feeling bored or stressed.
I know from experience that setting aside time to plan and prepare nutritious meals is instrumental for my health and wellness. If I have tasty food prepared ahead of time, then it is highly unlikely that I will make poor food choices throughout the week.
4. Avoid alcohol
If you’re feeling stressed and like to drink alcohol to unwind or clear your racing mind before you sleep, you may want to reconsider because drinking close to bedtime actually negatively impacts your sleep.
“Many individuals consume alcohol to wind down at the end of the day or to fall asleep at night, which can be a problem. Alcohol can disrupt REM sleep and worsen sleep quality. It can also cause changes in the brain, which could worsen anxiety. These changes could cause daytime somnolence, inattentiveness, and irritability.”Dr. Leela Magavi
Honestly, no amount of alcohol is good for you. If you are drinking, try to keep it in moderation and stop drinking 3-4 hours before bedtime.
5. Drink a warm beverage
Drinking warm tea before bed is incredibly soothing and has various health benefits.
The best part of my nighttime routine is to have a cup of chamomile tea to help me relax and unwind.
I recently tried Tazo Dream tea, which has a combination of valerian root, chamomile, and lavender. Drinking this tea helps decrease my anxiety and improves my sleep.
If you’re not a big tea drinker, any warm caffeine-free beverage (like a cup of warm milk) has a soothing effect on your body. In addition, a warm drink helps you relax, feel less anxious, and helps clear your racing mind before you sleep.
6. Enjoy a warm bath or shower
Remember when you were a child, you had a calming bedtime routine of a warm bath, wearing pajamas, and having a story read to you?
There’s actually a reason that parents do this, it helps their child relax and fall asleep.
According to Chris Heuer’s article “Take a Warm Shower Before Bed to Help Sleep,” when you leave a warm bath or shower and enter a cooler bedroom, there is a slight drop in your body temperature. This drop leads to your metabolic functions slowing down, like your heart rate, breathing, and digestion. All this helps to get you into a more relaxed state, induce drowsiness, and therefore make it easier to fall asleep.
So part of your routine before you sleep can be to enjoy a warm shower, following a skincare routine and get ready to ease into bed and have a peaceful night’s sleep.
7. Unplug from social media
One of the most effective self-care activities I’ve integrated into my nighttime routine is to turn off my cell phone and disconnect from social media.
I’ve noticed a big drop in my anxiety and depression ever since I started unplugging from social media.
Ask yourself if you really need to scroll through your Instagram feed or Facebook and look through the endless posts or notifications. How does this add any value to your life?
By unplugging from social media, especially in the evening, you are giving yourself an opportunity to be in the present moment. Rather than compare and despair, you can relax, calm down, unwind and focus on self-care activities to improve your well-being.
Some studies have shown that social media negatively impacts our mental health. So, disconnecting from social media is an effective step to clear your racing mind before sleep. To learn more about this, find out how your life changes when you stop social media.
8. Tidy up your space
One easy way to clear your racing mind before sleep is to spend a few minutes tidying up and getting rid of clutter.
In short, clutter can just put you in a bad mood and make you feel overwhelmed and anxious when you start your day.
To avoid this feeling, try this 10-minute method.
Set an alarm and try to clean up whatever you can in that time frame. Start with big items first and put them away. If you have a partner or children, get them in on this action so you can all do it together.
What you will notice is that you feel more energized, less stressed, and more relaxed when you wake up the next day because you are starting your day in a clutter-free space.
Try adding this 10 minute tidy-up method to your nighttime routine, and you will be surprised when you see how much you can get done in such a small amount of time.
9. Plan your day
One activity I like to do as part of my bedtime routine is to jot down some tasks that I want to accomplish the next day.
This activity is beneficial because it prevents me from thinking about my “to-do list” while I’m trying to sleep at night and also helps me feel productive the following day.
It’s easy to do this, you can use a planner or just a piece of paper and just jot down everything that you have to do the following day.
When you do this, you clear your racing mind before you sleep. You can remind yourself that it’s all written down if any annoying thoughts pop into your head.
Lately, I’ve been using the Panda Planner and I absolutely love it because the framework is all based on the science of positive psychology.
I’ve noticed that I’m a lot more calm and relaxed with the time blocking system as well as the focus on my strengths and goals.
10. Sleep when you’re tired
There have been many times in my life when I’ve had trouble falling asleep. This is a vicious cycle.
If you’re like me, not only are you feeling exhausted but you’re also stressed about not sleeping. This is not conducive to falling asleep and creates a horrible automatic association that your bedroom is a place where you can’t sleep.
“If we spend too long each night in the bed worrying, then it can become the default response every time you lay down to sleep. This is actually a very common cause of insomnia—it’s called psychophysiological insomnia.”Dr. Kansagra
The best way to avoid this cycle is to go to bed only when you are tired. If you can’t fall asleep after about 20 minutes, then get out of bed and do something until you are sleepy again.
Read more on how to improve your sleep hygiene and say goodbye to your sleep problems.
Learning to clear your racing mind before sleep will dramatically lower your stress and anxiety.
When you take the time to practice self-care, you learn to put yourself first and end up feeling better. Therefore, those around you, whether they are your friends, colleagues, or children, also feel better because they get to interact with the best version of you.
To start to clear your racing mind before sleep, you can do a relaxation exercise like yoga, write in a gratitude journal, take a bath or have a cup of tea.
Take the time to tidy-up clutter, unplug from social media, and avoid alcohol. All of this helps you since you’re focusing on being mindful and present rather than using avoidance or distractions to get rid of your anxiety and stress.
When you clear your racing mind before sleep, it makes tomorrow easier because you take the time to decompress, unwind and transition from the day into the evening. Taking the time to transition and engage in rituals helps you ease from one day into the next in a calmer state.
As a result, you wake up the next morning feeling refreshed, relaxed, focused, and ready to start a new day.
What are some ways you clear your mind before you sleep at night? What do you do at night if you’re having anxiety? Have you tried one or more of the ideas to clear your racing mind before sleep in this article that made a positive difference in your life? Please share your stories and comments below.