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Stress, anxiety, and overwhelm lead to exhaustion. And they also lead to a spinning, overactive mind that makes it so you can’t sleep. Boo. Spending the night fighting for a good night’s sleep and instead going down every possible rabbit hole of worry in your mind then leads to more stress and more spinning and Aaaaaaaaargh!
Over the years, I’ve created a wonderful little toolbox of sleep aids that have come through for me time and time again. They get the focus off of everything that is wrong, open up some space, and allow the mind to finally rest. Super ninja bonus- they plant positive seeds and get to work making new pathways for the mind to begin its crafty work of making your life awesome.
While we sleep, our brain goes to work, through dreams, of processing our days. So, if you are drifting off to sleep with worry, stress, and imagining every bad scenario, what do you suppose your brain works on while you sleep? Mmmm hmmmm. How to make all those bad things happen. I won’t get all neuroscienc-y here but, it also carves deeper and deeper ruts in the neural pathways that are negative ways of thinking and seeing things.
I also recall reading that during an ideal sleep pattern, we wake naturally in the morning after a final stage of R.E.M. sleep. And that those suffering from clinical depression almost always have some form of negative dream before waking. Yuck. That means you are starting your day with an already defeated feeling looming over you.
Makes so much darn sense, then, to add positive habits to your pre-sleep routine. Besides allowing you to relax enough to get a good night’s sleep, you will get all the neurons firing away to align with that positivity and you’ll wake up with sparks of positivity. Heck yeah!
Ok, I will come out and say that nothing in my toolbox is earth-shattering or has a wow factor. You don’t need big and splashy to get a good night’s rest. So don’t brush these ideas off for their simplicity. Give them a go, tweak them, and see how you are feeling after a month. Some nights you may not need a tool. Yay! Some nights you may love one method and the next find it ridiculous. No problemo. There is no need to force anything or follow any rules.
Say Your Gratitude ABC’s
This has been my go-to for years. Pretty simple. Go through the alphabet and name one thing for each letter that you are grateful for. Example: A- I got some great new ART supplies today. B- I had time to BAKE C-coffee… you get the idea. It’s best to not just name the obvious “my family, a roof over my head” because, while you are grateful for those things, if you just rotely say them without feeling the gratitude, you might as well be reciting your grocery list. Really put thought into what you feel gratitude for.
A variation of this is to do future gratitude. If you have been working on envisioning your future life, simply imagine that it is here now and see as clearly and with as much detail as you can everything that you are grateful for. Example: A- Abundance of love, money, and health B- a big Backyard with fruit trees and room for the kids to run and play C-my top-of-the-line Computer that makes me giddy every time I use it…..
As you are saying and feeling these things, you can literally feel your heart expand.
Or, try this. Often when we are in overwhelm and things feel so heavy and dark, we feel alone. Try an ABC of names of people who support you, love you, have helped you, cheer you on, etc. I find this one to be quite magical.
What I find is that most nights, I’ve drifted off to sleep long before I am even halfway through the alphabet. So some nights I will start my ABCs from the middle or start at Z and go backward to get some of those letters that I’ve missed.
Can’t Sleep? Get Manifesting
Take your biggest dream and live it. Is it a new career? A new home? World travel? Ten million dollars in your bank account? See whatever that dream is as absolute reality. Go over every big and tiny detail of what having it would look like, feel like, smell like, sound like, and taste like. See yourself there, see the people who are with you.
If you feel like you are done, go in for a closer look. Real-life has a zillion little details that give it feeling. What details are you seeing? Is it a new home? Walk into every room. Open drawers and cupboards. What would be inside of those in your ideal life? What sounds do you hear? Maybe it’s your kids laughing, or parrots squawking as they fly overhead, a little waterfall trickling in your backyard. Ten million dollars in your bank account? How do you feel? What things are you buying? What kind of food are you eating? Open your bank app on your phone and see the numbers!
Never, ever, never, never, ever stop yourself from seeing all the details by butting your big, logical brain in to ask, “But HOW???” You don’t need to know how and if you insist on asking it, you will have to sit in the naughty corner for the rest of the night.
Plus, the sleep is in the details. The more you busy your mind creating smells and sights, the quicker it will relax and let you sleep. And now you’ll sleep with some great seeds to germinate.
Re-Do Your Day
I’ll admit that one of my lifelong hobbies has been focusing on the negative. Nothing like getting into bed and chewing over everything that I did wrong and that went wrong in my day or even 10 years ago. That allows me to spin into imagining all that will most definitely go wrong tomorrow and for the rest of my life.
Howsabout instead we crawl into bed and create a mental re-do of our day? This includes taking all judgment away. No beating yourself up for doing something “wrong.” You will simply look at what happened honestly and then hit rewind and face the situation anew.
What would you do differently? How does that change the outcome? How do you feel? Just take a nice walk through your day and hit rewind anytime you feel it was not your ideal day. Go back and hit rewind on the time you got angry and yelled at your kids. Hit rewind on deciding not to get up and go for your morning run. Hit rewind on not saying good morning to the couple you passed on the street. Hit rewind on getting frustrated and giving up on your new project. Hit rewind on any negative self-talk.
Go through your day, step by step, and make it your ideal day. See yourself taking a breath and calmly responding to your kids. See yourself getting out of bed, lacing up your shoes and having a wonderful walk. You’re not judging anything you did, but taking this time to do it how you want to.
For some reason, even when I didn’t regularly meditate, I was a meditation purist. I completely put my nose in the air if anyone mentioned guided meditation. Why that’s not real meditation. You can’t meditate lying down for goodness sake! Meanwhile, my mind was so runaway squirrely that I couldn’t even sit for a minute in classic meditation.
Soooooo….. I caved and gave guided mediation a go. Well, wouldn’t you know? It was amazing! For an overwhelmed mind, it is a wonderful tool to have someone guiding you and pulling your focus to their words instead of the 100 monkeys running loose in your mind.
Full, eight-hour sleep meditations were my savior when I was at my breaking point. (You can read my list of emergency mind warrior tools for the super-stuck HERE.)
If you can afford to, you may want to consider getting a subscription to a mediation app such as Calm or Headspace. I’m not linking directly because I have never used either but here them referenced often. the Hayhouse app is another great option that I have tried.
I went the YouTube route because, as I mentioned, I started off with all-night-long meditations. I will say that you can find any kind of mediation you want on YouTube but many of them have ads that pop up just as you are relaxing, so it does take some time to weed those out.
This really comes down to personal choice and what resonates with you, so I will leave it to you to search for “bedtime meditation” “guided sleep meditation” etc and try some out. I admit to using some really wackadoodle ones when I first started. I think the oddness of them allowed me to not focus so much on it I was “getting it” and thus let go and relax.
Eventually, I settled in with Joe Dispenza. His nighttime meditation can be found as-is on youtube but there are also all-night versions that continue with soothing music, binaural beats, or subliminal messages. Here is one that goes for a full 12 hours. If you are new to meditation, Dr. Joe does some weird shit in his guided meditations that may make you think he is just too “out there” but there is a method to his madness and the guy uses a lot of science to back what he does.
Ah, the last little tool! There are headbands you can wear while sleeping that have headphones in them. Get some. (This is the one I have #affiliatelink)
Like I said, nothing earth-shattering here, but holy moly what a difference a quiet mind and a good night’s sleep make. It is literally life-changing. Try one, try the next and find what works for you.