Ask SleepBetter: My Mind Won’t Shut Down for Sleep

Have you wondered about something related to sleep, but just can’t find the answer?  Lots of people do, and that’s why we created Ask SleepBetter.  You can ask your own question on the SleepBetter Facebook Page, or by using our Ask SleepBetter contact form.  We will try to answer as many questions as possible, but we are not able to answer queries about physical issues or medicinal issues.  Those should be addressed face-to-face with a physician.

Today’s question is about minds that won’t shut down:

 Even if im very tired at night physically or mentally when I come to bed to sleep I get all alert and fresh… it happens daily and then I end up taking sleeping pill to get some sleep which lasts for few hours hardly 2 or 3 hours and then I cant get back to sleep again even though if im drowsy

-Dolly S. (via Facebook)

“I have a horrible time trying to go to sleep my mind just runs and runs in circles”

-Michele P. (via Facebook)

These two questions were so similar, we figured it best to answer them at the same time.  Truthfully, not being able to shut down one’s brain for sleep is one of the most common problems we hear about.

As with any sleep problem, it’s best to discuss this with your family doctor.  There are a number of medical issues that can cause insomnia and it’s good to rule them out first.

In the absence of a physical problem, we do have a few suggestions for individuals who are tired at bedtime but can’t stop worrying or find that their mind races in bed:

  • Institute a bedtime routine: It’s been shown among the elderly and among younger children that doing the same thing before bed every night improves sleep, and it’s a good practice for the rest of us as well.  Try including a number of calming things in your bedtime routine, like a warm (not hot) bath, listening to cal music, and/or reading a calm book (the paper kind).
  • Purchase a white noise machine: These devices make “white noise” sounds that range from a babbling brook, to croaking frogs, to something that sounds like a vacuum cleaner.  Whichever noise you prefer, the idea is that you focus on listening to the repetitive sounds and not whatever is worrying you.
  • Make a list of what worries you: Right before bed, write down all of the things that are starting to worry you.  Sometimes putting them on paper (ensuring you’ll remember them in the morning) helps.  It may also make you realize that some of the worries aren’t anything worth losing sleep over.
  • Learn basic meditation techniques: Learning deep breathing and some basic techniques to focus your mind can be very helpful.  Check out this article for some tips that anyone can put into practice.

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