Stop Thinking and Start Sleeping
If you’re tossing and turning trying to put your mind to bed at night, anxiety is a likely culprit. Thoughts spill out about what happened today; what’s due tomorrow; where your life is heading now; how you can manage all that’s on your plate. For many of us, the more we try to stop the frenzied thinking, the harder it is to stop. The more you try to fall asleep, the wider-awake you are. A key to falling asleep quickly is to control the racing or repetitive thoughts in your mind.
Three Steps to Mind Control
If you’ve ever practiced meditation, you already have the tools to help control your thinking. Essentially, you can meditate your mind to sleep. These three steps can quickly slow your brain waves into a sleepy state. It takes some practice, but soon it’ll become habit.
Build awareness. Before you can change anything in life, you have to become aware that change is necessary. Awareness is not forcing yourself to stop thinking. Awareness is simply noticing that your mind is racing. So just view the state of your mind. Notice all the jumbled thoughts streaming in your brain. Smile and say something to yourself like: “Look at all those things swirling around in my head.” Do nothing. Just notice. Watch the words spill over, but stay at peace. As you become aware of your thoughts, you’ll separate from them. Now you have the power of choice on your side.
Relax and focus. Once you become aware, you now can direct your mind to a more tranquil, stress-free place. Focusing, essentially, is directing your mind. Concentrate on something your body is sensing—breathing, hearing a soft rain, feeling the smoothness of your bed—all things your conscious mind skips over. What you continually focus on expands and the anxious thoughts diminish.
Repeat and repeat. Breathing, the focus in meditation, is probably the easiest to learn. Focusing on your breath takes practice and repetition. Take a deep breath in and count each series. Inhale while counting 1, 2, 3, hold for a second and exhale 1, 2, 3. Relax all your muscles on the exhale. Continue with a series and count each one of the series: 1:123; 2:123, 3:123; 4:123 and so on. Holding your focus isn’t easy. But, the more your subconscious takes over, the more relaxed your body becomes and the sooner sleep prevails.
With a little practice and a cool, dark, sleep-only environment, you, too, can stop thinking and start sleeping soon after you hit the pillow.
A good night sleep is one of the most underrated aspects of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The effects of sleep disorders range from mere annoyance to life-threatening occurrences. Sleep disorders have been found to play a role in high blood pressure and heart disease.
Virtua's SleepCare Centers in Marlton, Mt. Holly, Voorhees and Washington Township provide medical evaluation and a full range of diagnostic testing, including sleep studies.
For information about sleep disorders or to schedule an appointment with a Virtua SleepCare Center physician, call 1-877-896-6267.
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