If you find yourself looking forward to a little “me time” post-putting down the kids for the night, you’re not alone. This is one of the hallmarks of motherhood (and giving so much of yourself throughout the day).
And yet, in our minds, there’s this idea that a good night sleep is right around the corner… right after the kids go down.
But how often is that not actually the case? How often is it that instead you find yourself lying there looking at the ceiling thinking about all the unfinished to-dos and upcoming plans?
My guess is a lot!
If this is you, you’re normal. This is what minds do—they wander and think (a lot).
To overcome a racing mind at night, I have five mindfulness practices that will help.
5 Ways To Calm Down At Night
Below is a list of five ways to calm down your racing mind at night.
Stop using screens at a certain time every night.
Just like we have screen time for our kids, we can place boundaries around screens for ourselves. Consider a rule where you put screens away (your phone, iPad, TV, etc.) by a specific time every night, such as 8pm.
The reason this helps with sleep is that your mind interprets light as a reason to stay awake. More light = stay up. And screens have a lot of light! If you avoid screens before bed, you help your body produce more melatonin and get into a state that’s ready for sleep.
A word for the wise: this is easier said than done. Your brain loves screens. Keep at it and practice this rule until you get it easily. It will come!
Limit booze and sugar.
Sugar and alcohol can make your brain more active, making it harder to get a good night’s sleep. While they seem like a great idea in the moment because of the immediate pleasure hit you get, there’s a net-negative consequence that they make sleep harder.
Instead, save the sugar and booze for times when you’re not trying to get a good night’s sleep, knowing that they’ll make it harder to do so.
Practice 10 minutes of silence before bed.
10 Minutes Of Silence is one of the mindfulness tools I teach that helps you regulate your nervous system to a state of calm. It works best when you do it daily around the same time. If you’re having trouble sleeping, making 10 Minutes Of Silence part of your nighttime routine is a great way to help calm down your mind and body before sleep. Every time you do it, your brain remembers how it feels to get to that calm state, so the effect of it compounds. Meaning, the more you do this practice, the more of an impact it has on your sleep (and life). It’s one of my favorites!
Understand the root cause of why your mind is so active.
Your mind is active because it’s in the habit of being active. It’s not because of your circumstances. It’s active because it’s very practiced at being active. It thinks it’s a useful activity to ensure everything “goes right.”
The more your mind loops at night, the more it loops.
What you want to see is that it’s a normal survival mechanism. Know that nothing is wrong with you. Also know that you want to condition your brain to get out of this habit.
This means you don’t pick up your phone and scroll when you can’t sleep. It means you remind your brain you 100% can figure out how to sleep without overthinking. Yes, you can.
Have a list of mantras to repeat.
Once you know it’s your brain being in the habit of overthinking at nighttime, you can create new ways of thinking to change your habit.
The way to do this is to start practicing mantras that you actually believe and that feel good to you.
Here are examples of mantras for nighttime:
- Whatever I’m thinking about can wait until tomorrow.
- I did enough today.
- It’s time to rest.
- Let my sleep be easy and deep.
- My body is calm and sleep helps restore it.
- Nothing is left undone that can’t be done in the future.
- I cherish this time for my body to sleep.
- Sleep serves my highest self.
A Final Note
With a practice like the one described above (using the five strategies), you’ll be able to reprogram your mind to one that goes right to sleep. Keep in mind it’s a practice, so if it takes repetition before you see results, that’s normal. Keep going. This can work for you.