One of the most common problems in getting off to sleep is an over-active mind, perhaps filled with worries, excitement, thoughts about events of the day or perhaps anticipation of the following day. Whatever the reason, when your mind is racing like this it often feels like it’s detached from your body and you’ve got no control of it.
No matter how relaxed your body is and how well you’ve otherwise prepared for sleep, if your mind is over-active then you won’t be able to sleep.
This is a completely normal occurrence and happens to everyone to a certain degree, particularly before or during events that typically cause a level of anxiety – such as exams or upcoming work commitments.
While it might feel unstoppable at the time, there are some rather simple ways to help calm your mind and drift off to sleep;
• Write a list: One of the most frequent reasons for a racing mind is thoughts of things that you have to do, either the next day or just generally. It feels like your brain is automatically reminding you of everything you need to do, so you can’t possibly forget any of it. Writing a “to do” list is an easy way to combat this, as it gets it all down on paper, and subconsciously reassures your mind that the information exists elsewhere, isn’t going to be forgotten, and doesn’t need to be thought about so intensely for the time being.
• Talk about it: If possible, talk to someone, a partner or family member, about what’s on your mind. Someone else’s opinion on the matter may help to rationalise and order your thoughts in a way that seems impossible on your own.
• Visualise something else: Thinking about something completely different, a particularly positive memory for instance, for even a brief period can help to break the cycle of rapid, anxiety-causing thoughts.