April 11, 2018
There are lots of things that can affect your sleep, including light, temperature and the state of your mattress. Yet time and again, the one major thing that gets in the way of a good night’s sleep is your frame of mind.
When you feel or worried or anxious, it can be really hard to shake those negative feelings as you’re lying there alone in the dark. And once you’re on the worry train, you might never fall asleep.
If this sounds familiar, you can probably benefit from some positive thinking before bedtime. You can only really focus on one thing at a time, so if you replace your anxiety and negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll be better able to relax and drift off to sleep.
If platitudes about positive thinking sound a little unscientific to you, there’s good news. Researchers are finding that the way you think isn’t just about following vague self-help advice. There’s actually growing evidence that your thoughts can change your brain structure, which will have a big impact on the way you respond to the world around you.
Constant negativity leaves people in a state of heightened awareness, as if they’re always scanning the environment for danger. When you’re that alert and ready to react all the time, it will be hard to let down your guard to get the sleep you need. When you train your brain to react to the world more positively, though, you’re mind is open to additional possibilities, and you reap all sorts of benefits, including increased creativity and relaxation.
Watching or reading the news online before bed can really ratchet up the tension in your life. There’s a whole lot to worry about these days, especially with the relentless pace of the news cycle — and it’s not like breaking news items are ever about rainbows and puppies. Cut yourself off from TV news and the internet after dinner to give your brain a break. If your social media feed is full of headlines, log off. Instead, watch a comedy or pick up a book to unwind.
Psychological research has shown that focusing on things you’re grateful for will help you sleep better. It turns out that gratitude is the ultimate in positive thinking, so try keeping a journal where you write down all the things you loved about your day and feel grateful for. Doing this right before bed will trigger your brain to think happy thoughts and encourage you to drift off without lingering worries.
While some types of meditation are about emptying your mind of all thoughts, you can instead choose to focus on a single positive affirmation. Many beginners find this an easier way to meditate, especially if you’re prone to distraction when you try to clear your mind. Try spending just five to 10 minutes repeating a positive affirmation like this bedtime quote: “I have done my best for today and have earned my rest.” They’ll help shut down the hamster wheel of your mind and allow you to sleep without guilt.
When you replace anxiety with positive thoughts, your mind and body can unwind and let go — a crucial prerequisite for falling asleep. Try these tips tonight, and see what a difference they make!