This can’t be happening. Once again, you are lying awake at night. You glance at the alarm clock and it is 2:30 am.
How is it possible to be so exhausted during the day, yet so wired when it is time to sleep?
You know that you don’t want to live like this. You don’t want to go through life as a zombie.
Fortunately, there are many things that you can do to calm your mind so that you can sleep.
The key to relaxing the mind starts with relaxing the body. It is very difficult to have a relaxed mind when your body is tense and ready to react at any second.
In this article, I will show you how to quiet your mind and get to sleep with soothing baths, yoga poses, and progressive muscle relaxation. Learn what to do when you can’t sleep.
Remember, this article is for informational purposes. I am not a health professional, just someone who has struggled with sleep. This article should not take the place of a health professional. Check with a doctor before trying any exercises or stretches. Read my full medical disclaimer here.
Why Is Your Mind Racing?
There are many reasons why your mind may be racing. Stress is a major one.
Pressures and responsibilities from work can cause a great deal of stress.
Sometimes it is difficult to leave work at home especially if you really care about what you do.
School can also lead to stress because there is such a time pressure when completing assignments and testing.
It is also common to experience stress from relationships, especially if you are responsible for taking care of someone.
Anxiety is also a huge reason for why your mind may be racing. It can affect just about every aspect of your life and can especially cause racing thoughts that feel impossible to turn off. If you think that you may have anxiety, there is a great test here.
Ironically, the pressure to fall asleep can make it more difficult to fall asleep. I personally have a tendency of trying harder to sleep when I am having trouble falling asleep.
This has never actually worked for me. In order to sleep, you need to become relaxed but working at sleep is the opposite of relaxation.
The key to falling asleep is putting effort into finding the things that will make you the most relaxed and putting a routine together before you go to bed so that your body knows when to shut off. Below are some suggestions to help you relax your mind and fall asleep.
To learn more about my sleep journey and some inexpensive natural remedies that helped me greatly, click here.
back to menu ↑
Tired But Can’t Sleep? Clean Up You Sleep Hygiene
When I say sleep hygiene, that means that you are going to clean up your sheets and make sure that your room is nice and clean before you go to sleep, right?
Even though it is good to have a clean room, that isn’t exactly what I mean. When I say sleep hygiene, I’m talking about developing good habits that can help you sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, that means:
- A set bedtime with a 20-30 minute nightly routine right before
- No caffeine for a few hours before you go to bed
- No looking at electronics like the phone, computer, or TV and hour or so before bed
- A cool temperature
- A routine wake-up time
- Exercise and activity during the day
- Naps no longer that 30 minutes
These tips may seem simple, but if you are really struggling with sleep, they may be tough to implement. Check out my tips and tricks for sleep hygiene for some ways to make sleep hygiene easier.back to menu ↑
A Relaxing Bath
One of my favorite ways to calm my mind is to take a nice, long relaxing bath. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. I find that just sitting in the warm water and floating a little bit gets me into a relaxed state.
Of course, it is very fun to add some things to the bath to make it a special and therapeutic. I personally like to add some Epsom salts, which help relax tense muscles. Lately, I have noticed that the supermarket offers Epsom salts in a range of scents to help relax the mind.
I also like to light some candles because I like the fact that the light from the candles is softer and more soothing than from light bulbs.
Lastly, I like to turn on some spa music. Youtube and Spotify both offer hours of relaxing spa music. It is really good for giving the mind something to focus on besides the thoughts racing through it. You can even practice mindfulness listening to the spa music- just keep your focus on the music and whenever you find yourself lost in thought, redirect your attention to the music.
Taking a nice, hot bath is a fantastic opportunity for relaxing your muscles while practicing a little mindfulness.back to menu ↑
Another fantastic way to calm the mind before bed is to do some light stretches. These can help relieve the muscle tension from stress.
One pose that is great for relaxation is the legs up the wall pose.
This pose is pretty self explanatory- you lie on your back with your legs up the wall.
To get into the post, you can start out on your back, with your knees bent. You will want to get as close to the wall as possible in this position.
From there, you can bring your knees to your chest as you get even closer to the wall, and eventually bring your legs up the wall.
If it is difficult for you to get your legs straight up the wall, you have your legs at an angle that is comfortable for you. You can also use a chair and rest your calves on the chair rather than having them straight up. Also, you can put a pillow behind your legs or a blanket under your back to make it more comfortable. Do what you need to modify this pose to make it work for you.
This pose gives a really nice stretch along the back of the legs. You will also notice that you will feel the blood draining through your legs and that your feet may get a little numb. If your feet start to get numb, just bring them down a little bit and then you can get back into this position again.
This stretch isn’t for everyone. If you have glaucoma, high blood pressure, pregnancy, obesity, or are menstruating this pose may not be for you. Be sure to check with your doctor before doing this pose.
Another stretch that is nice to do before bed is child’s pose. This one is easier than legs up the wall. To get into this pose, you simply knee with your legs underneath you and then walk your hands forward and bring your chest down as far as it will go. You will be able to feel this stretch along the sides of your back and your shoulders.
These stretches are a great way to get your body relaxed physically. The relaxation of the mind naturally follows.back to menu ↑
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
A progressive muscle relaxation is a fantastic way to get your body into a state of deep relaxation.
Deep relaxation is very powerful and can lead to actual physiological changes in the body.
According to Dr. Edmund Bourne in the Anxiety and Social Phobia Workbook, when you experience deep relaxation, the heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, and metabolic rate all decrease.
All of these changes can make it easier for the mind to calm down and lead to a better and much deeper sleep.
Relaxation takes practice, so the more you do this exercise the more relaxed your get. You may even find yourself feeling calmer in your day to day life.
With progressive muscle relaxation, you simply tense a muscle and then release it, allowing it to relax completely. I am including an excellent progressive relaxation recording provided by Caroline’s Mindfulness on soundcloud below.
back to menu ↑
More Ways To Relax Before Bed
- Putting a warm compress over the shoulders, back, or anywhere that is tense
- Wrapping yourself in a nice warm blanket straight from the dryer
- Listening to relaxing music, perhaps with binaural beats, while reading a good, simple book
- Using relaxing scents such as lavender
If you tend to find yourself awake at 2:30 am with your mind racing, there is hope. A relaxing bath, certain yoga poses, and perhaps most importantly progressive muscle relaxation can all calm down your mind so that you are able to get a good night’s sleep. Now that know some ways to calm your mind before bed, you should be able to fall asleep more consistently. You may even find the effects of relaxation seeping into your everyday life.
Please let me know if you think that you will try out some of these suggestions, or if there is anything that helps you fall asleep. Also, don’t keep these tips to yourself. Be sure to share it with anyone who may be looking for some ways to relax.