Do you ever notice the sorts of thoughts you have just before going to sleep? They can say a lot about your mindset. The good news is that you can train your pre-snooze stream of thought to work to your advantage.
The twilight hours can bring up some strange thoughts – lying awake at night, some of us come up with some of our most creative ideas, and others of us create scenarios in our head about how everything is wrong and we will never succeed.
Persistent worries tend to show up at bedtime, but this is unfortunately at a time when it's easy to dramatise and very difficult to do anything to solve your problems.
If you have a lot to do the next day, you may find that you start worrying or dreading a big event. The key to solving pre-sleep stressing is setting aside some time beforehand to 'do' your worrying in.
It sounds strange, but putting aside 20 minutes in which you are 'allowed' to worry can help you have restful sleep later on. If you have an important event coming up make sure you have set aside sufficient time to plan in detail, taking into account all eventualities, so that the 'What if's don't pop into your head later when you're trying to sleep.
When it's duvet time, some people tend to mull over the day that has just passed, which is ok as long as you keep it positive and don't agonise over what went wrong. Instead, congratulate yourself on the day's triumphs and if anything went awry, think how you will do it better next time.
Some of us are bedtime inventors- and find that inspirational ideas seem to pop into our head just as we're nodding off. If this is you, take advantage of that brainwave state and keep a pad and pen next to the pillow so you can pop down any ideas. Then go to sleep and look at them in the morning – in the cold light of day, you'll soon discover whether they were sparks of genius or brain dribble.
Some people find their moods catch up with them in the twilight hours - some may become sad or maudlin. If this is you, choose only to think about your favourite things to fall asleep more easily. If negative thoughts drift into your mind, acknowledge them and then just gently push them away. Something like “God my relationship isn't great right now.... Ok, that's interesting, but I'd prefer to think about ice-cream right now. Mmmm chocolate chip.”
I sometimes like to listen to relaxation tapes to quiet my mind and sometimes I just go through a list of all the things I am grateful for right now. What other strategies can you use to get the best out of your mind at bed-time? Drop me a line if you need more help with sleeping or managing stress.
by Beth Burgess, Therapist and author of The Recovery Formula, The Happy Addict, and What Is Self-Esteem?