Does your mind start to race when it’s time to go to sleep? Once you get in bed, do you suddenly not feel so tired anymore? This isn’t quite insomnia, but it isn’t ideal for sleep either. I’ve been in this position myself. There have been times where I lay in bed for an hour, and I won’t feel tired at all. Quite the opposite actually. I’ll feel like my mind won’t stop racing. It won’t turn off. And that begins an endless loop of worrying if I’ll ever get to sleep, which leads to even more overthinking and more restlessness. The good news is that I’ve found a way to kill this endless loop of restlessness.
The biggest factor that has gotten me past this restlessness is my pre sleep routine. I was notorious for watching TV, watching videos on my phone, and scrolling through social media while I was in bed. Although it’s tempting, this is a bad nightly routine. This is a major contributor to our restlessness. Between the bright lights and the content that’s made to get a reaction out of us, we need to get rid of this habit so we can turn our brains off. The bright screen lights are interfering with our brain’s ability to shut down. It sees the lights and thinks it’s daylight, signaling our body to wake up. We want to do the opposite of this so we can shut our bodies and minds down for the night. Instead, you should instate a rule of no screens or social media at least an hour before bedtime. This will you’re your mind enough time to shut down without the screens to wake yourself up, or the polarizing social media content that’s algorithmically sent to us for the sole reason of stirring up a reaction. You may think this method is boring by taking out all the screens, and you’re basically right. The best way to shut your brain down is by not giving it anything to get stimulated by. Getting rid of the stimulation is the first step of getting a good night’s sleep.
The next trick that is a less known is to read. Even if you are not much of a reader, find something that you like to read. I don’t believe there’s people out there who don’t like to read. Instead, they just haven’t found something to read that’s interesting enough for them. So, find a nice book that you can tolerate at a minimum. We are going to substitute our screen time before bed with a book instead. Open up that book and start reading right before you climb in bed. It helps not to read in bed, but it’s not a deal breaker. The reason behind this is that if you are restless, then you may affiliate your bed with that restlessness. This may be conscious or even unconscious. So, that’s why it’s better to read on a comfortable chair or couch until you start to feel yourself get sleepy. At that point, climb in bed and go to sleep. This will rewire your brain to think of your bed as a sleepy zone, and not an overthinking zone. When you’re reading, don’t worry about speed reading. Just focus on a relaxing pace. Because the ultimate goal is not to read a book as fast as you can. It’s to tire your mind, so take it nice and slow if you want to. After you climb in bed, stay away from any distractions and just try and relax and fall asleep. This next part is important. If you feel yourself becoming restless again and can’t fall asleep after 30 minutes, the get out of bed! Get out of bed and read until you feel sleepy again. It’s important to get out of bed because we don’t want to connect restlessness with our bed. We want to train our brains to think that our beds mean sleep, not awake. So, get out of bed and go back to your reading spot. Read until you get tired and try it again. Repeat this loop as many times as it takes to fall asleep. This practice takes about a week to get used to. So, if you feel yourself getting frustrated with the process night after night, just try to go a little bit longer until a week has passed. A week is the minimum amount of time that it takes for our brains to change how we think of sleep. However, each night should get easier and easier the longer you practice this routine for.
That’s one of the biggest tips I have for anyone that feels restless when trying to go to sleep. It’s a trick that I have used and still use to help me fall asleep faster. It also forces me to read, which I love. It’s not the most stimulating process, but that’s the point. It helps to shut our minds off so we can focus on rest. If you’re still having trouble falling asleep, you may need to look at your caffeine intake. My rule of thumb is no caffeine after noon. However, I’ve heard of people having more success by completely cutting caffeine out of their diets. This may not be necessary for everyone, so start with cutting it out after noon and go from there.
Restlessness sucks. There’s no way around it. This method has helped me so much and I wish I heard about it sooner. It helps me with the endless loop of thought while lying in bed and slows down my mind from racing. I certainly feel like I fall asleep faster and even deeper throughout the night. It’s even made me start to enjoy reading, which has not always been the case. So, if you’re restless at night, give this a try for a week and see how you like it. Sweet dreams.