Sleep Tight: Putting Your Thoughts to Bed

Whenever I look at children staring off into space, I wonder what they’re thinking.

Playground fun? Cookies? A favorite toy? The sun, moon, and stars?

Who knows?

At that age, children might not be able to articulate exactly what they are thinking about.

As adults, we have the opposite problem.

Most of us know exactly what’s on our minds and can (in excessive detail) describe what’s running through our overworked, over-tired brains (out loud and silently inside our heads).

Some of those thoughts keep us awake at night.

Lately, my sleep cannot be anything remotely described as “sweet slumber” and the last thing dancing through my mind are sugar plums and fairies.

In fact, one of the furthest thoughts in my mind when my head hits the pillow at night is to sleep. Instead, I think and think and think.

With days filled to overflowing with tasks and responsibilities, hurting people facing illness, setbacks, job loss, death and more. My mind just doesn’t shut off. Neither does my body (for it too apparently has a mind of its own) as I am continually fighting internal combustion episodes about every hour as well.

What to do?

It’s always interesting to me that I tend to make problems far more complicated than they are. So while driving recently, I was listening to a new sleep study and one tip caught my attention.

The radio host said, “Learn to put your thoughts to bed…” and then described a number of ways to do this. I half-listened because most of them I already knew…but one suggestion hit me.

The faceless voice recommended making a list during the night, not before you go to bed (we’ve all done that). Rather, when you wake up in the middle of the night with racing thoughts (and hoping against hope you don’t forget in the morning what you just remembered) jot it down (right then). Sounds too easy doesn’t it?

Somehow though, our brains relax enough to reenter sleep (apparently this is proven from some scientific data), because your mind recognizes (you’ve taken care of business) and you can let it go.

I tried it. It worked.

Yes, I still woke up during the night (more times than I’d like to admit, but fewer than before) but when I jotted down my reminders (this is where my handy iPad2 comes in handy because you flip open the smartcover, it lights up, and you write on the notepad), I fell back asleep faster. Stayed asleep longer. Woke up more refreshed. What’s not to love?

So here’s to trying a simple little trick to trick our minds back into that state of sweet sleep.

Sleep tight.


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