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I Can’t “Turn Off My Mind” at Night, How Do I Do That?

Shamash Alidina






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I Can’t “Turn Off My Mind” at Night, How Do I Do That?

Having a racing mind at night is very common. Shamash shares some personal experiences on how he works with turning off his mind in the evening.

Hey, Shamash here.

I've been asked the question, I

can't turn my mind off at night.

How do I do that?

Sleep can be one of our biggest

challenges in modern society.

And having a racing mind at night is such

a common issue that so many of us face.

So first of all, before I

start, remember, don't worry.

It's definitely not just you.

Today, I will share some quick fixes

you can try as well as some longer

term ideas that could help you too.

I found a combination of these approaches

have helped me on the days or weeks

when I've struggled to fall asleep.

So if you wish to try a quick fix,

first of all, have a go at doing

a body scan as you lie in bed.

One of my friends does this every

night and says it always helps

to calm his mind and fall asleep.

So the way to do this is just begin

with your feet as they're furthest

away from your head, and just feel the

sensations there for three breaths.

You can even wiggle your toes

a bit, if you like, to help

you feel the sensations there.

And then after feeling them

for three breaths, you just

gradually move up your body.

So you move up to your lower legs.

And again, feel the sensations there.

Count three breaths.

And then continue doing this as

you make your way up your body.

Your knees, your upper legs,

your pelvis, and so on.

If you somehow managed to make it

all the way to the top of your body

and haven't fallen asleep, just start

from the top of your head and make

your way back down your body again.

Now it doesn't exactly

have to be three breaths.

You can do five breaths or one breath or

two breaths, however many works for you.

As with all of these exercises

that I share, experiment and feel

free to do what works for you.

We all have different preferences.

Another easy solution would be to

listen to any of the guided meditations

that you have available in this app.

Any that you find soothing.

Some people find meditation's very

relaxing and a great way to fall asleep.

Others find guided meditations energizing.

So again, experiment to

see what works for you.

If there, if you find them

very energizing, then maybe

that's not the right approach.

When my mind is really kind of full

up with thoughts, one technique I

like is called mindful journaling.

I just take a few sheets of paper or

a journal, and I begin by taking a

few deep, slow and conscious breaths.

Then, I simply right down

a stream of consciousness.

I just keep writing

whatever comes into my head.

I find that after maybe even less

than five minutes, I just run

out of things to write about.

I always think I can keep writing,

but usually run out of things to

write and my head kind of empties.

Our worry is often a series of short

thoughts that just kind of keep

going around and round in our heads.

But once you write it down, they

can often lose their power and

seem quite boring, to be honest.

So, if you sit up in bed and do

some mindful journaling, just for

a few minutes with a dim light

on, that might work for you.

So you could try that.

Another unique approach is what

I call the opposite technique.

It's actually one of my favorite

techniques to play with.

If your mind has been racing and you've

been struggling to sleep, I'm guessing

that you've actually tried to stop

your thoughts and it hasn't worked.

So how about trying the opposite.

Instead of trying to stop your crazy

thoughts, try welcoming them in.

Say to your mind, Hey mind, sorry I've

been trying too hard to control you.

And I know you don't like that.

So now I invite you to

think as much as you wish.

I'll just be here watching you and

listening to you in a friendly way.

Think as much, or as little as you wish.

So over to you.

So you can try that approach

and see if that works.

I also use the opposite technique when

it comes to trying to fall asleep.

Instead of trying to fall asleep, I

sometimes play with the idea of trying

to stay awake and watching my thoughts.

That works for me sometimes too.

And I find it much less frustrating than

the effort of trying to fall asleep.

When you try this, if your mind can't

think of anything, that's great.

Just enjoy the silence of mind.

And if your mind does think of something

to think about, that's also great.

Remember the idea is that you

let your mind do the thinking

rather than you trying to think.

Your job is more just to kind of

sit back and watch and listen to

the mind, without any sense of

trying to control it in any way.

A bit like sitting back

and watching a movie.

You don't control it.

You just watch it.

Beyond these little tips and tricks

you can do in the moment, think about

having a regular bedtime routine

by going to bed at a certain time

and having some time to unwind.

If you're watching lots of television or

looking at screens just before going to

bed, that's most likely going to cause

your mind to be busy when you lie in bed.

So try leaving your phone in a

different room rather than your

bedroom and see if that works for you.

That does work for many people.

Also consider what activities

you did in the day.

Did you do any physical activity

to get your body moving?

Did you eat well?

If you consume a heavy meal just before

bed, that could cause your mind to race.

I know, for me, if I drink any caffeine

beyond about 3:00 or 4:00 PM, I

actually can't fall asleep easily.

And my mind starts to think a lot.

Caffeine usually stays in the system

for many hours actually, and affects

some people more than others.

Another nice routine to do before going to

bed is some nice, slow, mindful movements.

Any kind of simple

stretches will do, actually.

The idea is that you're aware

of the movement of your body

together with your breathing.

So let the movements be

nice and smooth and slow.

You could start simple by

doing even less than one minute

of stretching and breathing.

And then just do more than

that, if you feel called to.

So it doesn't have to be a long

session, if you don't feel like that.

Remember, if your mind is very busy

during the day, it's much more likely

to keep racing when we hit the pillow.

So think about smaller, easy ways

to be more mindful during the day.

That way, you become more present

with your moment to moment

activities, and you're less likely

to have your mind so busy at night.

One simple approach, for example, is each

time you sit down to have a meal, you just

take at least one deep conscious breath.

You feel each in and out-breath.

And then each time you notice

yourself feeling rushed or stressed

or anxious during the day, rather

than rushing even more, you just

stop and take at least one breath,

more if you want, but at least one.

This will begin to help you to be more

mindful during the day and make your

mind more settled once you do go to bed.

So I've given you quite

a lot of ideas there.

So try and see whatever approach you

feel you want to try and that you think

intuitively may be effective for you.

I recommend small, simple, easy steps and

playfully experimenting with different

techniques is the key to helping yourself.

Thanks so much for listening.

I do hope you're able to experience

a nice restful sleep soon.

Remember, you're certainly not alone

in having a busy mind at night.

May you be kind and understanding

with yourself the next time

you're struggling to sleep.

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