How can I stop thinking so I can fall asleep when I go to bed?
• Make Meaningless Mental Lists.
To sleep, your mind must be quiet. Instead of worrying about what’s bothering you, think of something else — something that has a story to it. Any topic that interests you is unimportant, so you can devote some brainpower to it without getting distracted by real-world concerns and ending up back where you started. What would be your lineup if you were going to a music festival?
• Try to Stay Awake Instead.
Thinking about sleep and wishing for it will keep you awake. Paradoxical thinking can help here. By instructing yourself to stay awake instead of going to bed, you’ll be more likely to fall asleep. If you are comfortable staying awake, then performance anxiety and frustration will disappear, and your level of arousal will decrease.
• Get Out of Bed.
When the mind is racing, and you haven’t been able to fall back asleep after 20 minutes, it’s best to get up and get out of bed. Instead of looking at your phone or any other screen, take a notebook. Take notes on your thoughts. End by saying, ‘It can wait until tomorrow.’ Then, go back to bed, breathe, and surrender to sleep, allowing yourself to rest.
• Write Down Whatever’s Freaking You Out.
Putting everything on paper every day should take 20 minutes; this helps you recognize that there’s not much to worry about, only a few reoccurring issues. Therefore, you can determine if your worries are hypothetical and which are ‘real’ worries. In the case of genuine concern, you can make an action plan and solve the problem, and in the case of hypothetical ones, just let them go.
• Go Back to Bed and Take a Deep Breath.
Deep breathing can be very effective as a distraction technique, especially when combined with counting. As a general rule, you should aim to breathe out for longer than you breathe in, pause between each breath; you may count to three when you breathe in, pause, and count to five when you exhale. Be aware of your breathing and counting; simply note it and get back to your exercise if you get distracted; this may take ten minutes.