By Reem Abdulrahman Jassim al-Muftah
Imagine it’s bedtime, you are lying down in bed tired from the long productive day you just had. Lights off, room silent and just the sound of the comforting air-conditioning in the background. Ready to sleep? Well, you might be ready but how long does it take you to actually fall asleep even though you were so tired you almost ran to bed? Well don’t worry, first of all you are not alone as around a third of the world’s population suffer from the same issue and secondly, I might have just the trick to help you let go of all your thoughts and relax into sleep.
So what do you have to do to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and increase your sleep quality? The main idea is to substitute your arousing thoughts with non-arousing thoughts to be able to stop engaging your mind so interactively and letting it continue to bombard you with unnecessary thoughts at the wrong time. You literally have to quiet your mind and lull your body into a ready-for-sleep state just like we do with babies. How?
Clear your mind or journal: If you are a person who is continuously on the go then you probably don’t sit with your thoughts during the day that often so when you are in bed and about to sleep your mind wants to get things off its chest. In that case, the best thing is to write down whatever those pending thoughts are and once they are written down, let them go. Picture yourself clearing your mind and putting those thoughts away.
Press pause: Train your mind and body by telling yourself that you will think about this in the morning and that this is not the right time. Another way to tackle this issue so you don’t face it at bedtime is to do some sort of solitary, physical activity where you are alone but focused on something not so important. For example, tidying up your room, organising your cupboard or tidying up your car. You need to train your body to go from overthinking into solitary mode where you can get used to transitioning and shutting off. If you do not exercise, this is a great way to get your activity in for the day too.
Scan your body: Body scan meditation is where you turn all your focus from your mind to your body, part by part. Start from the head and work down until your toes. Note each of your body parts and if you are feeling any type of soreness, tightness, warmth, cold, numbness, discomfort or anything else. Send your thoughts to that body part and just breathe slowly, helping your body to change that feeling into a good one. Continue until you reach your feet and hopefully by then you will be asleep before you reach your toes!
Rock yourself to sleep: Imagine you are rocking on a boat or a hammock and create a mental rocking effect. You can even play some relaxing and non-arousing music to go along with your thoughts as you sway from side-to-side.
Be grateful: Negative thoughts are arousing and will make your situation worse. Therefore, try your best not to think of how long it is taking to fall asleep and do not bring up all the horrors in your life or world right now. Disconnect and divert and re-focus your mind to gratitude and what you are grateful for. End the night on a positive tone.
Changing your habits take time so do not stress and think you will change overnight. The most important thing is to remember that you are trying and that your end goal is to rest your mind, body and soul, to be the best version of yourself, so do not be too hard on yourself and just take it day-by-day because there’s always tomorrow.
* The author is a wellness advocate and influencer @keys2balance.
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