Mental Health Monday

Sleep…the final frontier of your day. There are many, many times I have slipped under the covers and given thanks to God for inventing bedtime. A whole entire chunk of time to do nothing but sleep? What a gift!!!

But what if you can’t turn your brain off when it’s time to drift away? It is so frustrating to be lying in bed unable to stop thinking all the thoughts. You can Google “how to shut your brain off at night” and get lots of really good articles, but I thought I’d share some personal tips on how I get my brain to just shut up already.

  1. Cool it down. I make sure my room is cool at night because sleeping in a too-warm room makes me SUPER CRANKY. Seriously, just ask my husband.
  2. Listen to my breathing. Sometimes if I can’t sleep, I can put in earplugs and listen to my own breath – it sort of sounds like waves ebbing and flowing on the shore, which relaxes me enough to finally drift off.
  3. Count sheep. Okay maybe not sheep, but I do count. I usually start at 100 and count backward, then forward again. If I haven’t drifted off by then I will…
  4. Get up and go drink some warm milk. Some warm milk with a little vanilla extract and a bit of sugar is like a hug in a cup. Makes me feel cozy and warm. It may be a myth that warm milk helps you sleep, but for me it breaks the pattern of trying to toss and turn my way to sleep and gives me a chance to reset my brain.
  5. Play mindfulness games. This one works for me when nothing else will. I go through the alphabet and list the first 3 words that come to mind for each letter. For example, A: aardvark, advance, apple. B: blender, bully, bike…etc. Sometimes I’ll do themes like animals or foods, but most of the time just thinking of the first word that pops in my head is enough – and sometimes it’s kind of amusing.
  6. Read something uninteresting. A coworker of mine who used to sell insurance said that if you ever have trouble sleeping, go read a copy of your homeowner’s insurance policy. Three paragraphs in and you’ll be out like a light! Similarly, reading a textbook or just any old boring thing you have lying around will probably do the trick.

Thankfully, I don’t usually have trouble sleeping, but on those occasions when I do, it helps to know that I have tools that I can use to calm myself.

What are your go-to tips for those nights when sleep eludes you? Share in the comments below so maybe we can all get a good night’s rest tonight. 🙂


6 thoughts on “Mental Health Monday

  1. I probably don’t have good strategies for getting to sleep. I usually get something to munch on, and read a book I like. I hate wasting time just laying there!

    1. That’s better than just lying there, tossing and turning and cursing and trying to force yourself to sleep. Sometimes I’ll get up and turn on an old movie – because they typically show the really bad ones (ie. boring) late at night. 🙂

  2. Recalling the day’s events or thinking about things that have already happened is helpful. It makes me too alert to think of the future. Also, if blood sugars dip too low it can interfere with sleep. I eat a snack with some fat in it about 1/2 hour before bed (cheese or peanut butter).

  3. I’m usually a pretty good sleeper but when I can’t seem to shut my mind off I pray, thanking God for all the good things in my life, naming them one-by-one. I usually fall asleep before I run out of things to be thankful for. I’ve also started doing some yoga-type stretching in the evenings and that has helped a lot.

    1. What a sweet way to end your day – that is such a good idea Bonnie. ❤ Also, it's amazing how much better I feel when I stretch…if only I could remember to do it consistently!

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