May is National Better Sleep Month! Our sleep can have pretty astounding affects on our everyday lives—impacting our mental health, physical health, productivity, and overall wellbeing. Though we do our best to get a good night’s sleep, it’s all too common to not get the proper rest our bodies require. Oftentimes, even when are bodies are ready to hit the hay, our minds are not quite ready to follow suit. Allowing yourself to mentally clock-out and drift off is oftentimes the biggest hinderance when it comes to a restful night. We can’t help but bring the stressors and emotions of the day to bed with us, but fortunately, there are measures we can take to help melt away those lingering thoughts.
Here are five ways to help turn your mind off, so you can turn in for the night:
Journaling is a fantastic and therapeutic way to unwind, reflect, and let go of some of the things that are weighing on your psyche. Getting thoughts out of your head and onto paper helps you to work through them—and sometimes, simply getting them out is enough in itself.
Meditation, in any form, can not only help you fall asleep faster, but help you sleep better. Follow along to a guided meditation video on Youtube, or just go the simple route and focus on your breathing. Lie still and focus on deep, slow inhales and exhales. As your mind wanders off, continually bring your focus back to your breathing. This process can lower your heart rate and trigger your body’s calming mechanisms, leading you into a peaceful sleep.
Read or Listen to a Podcast
Getting lost in a story can help take you out of your own thoughts, and reading has been the timeworn technique to help fall asleep. Instead of an e-reader, enjoy a good ol’ fashioned paper book, so you’re not staring into a screed. And most importantly, be sure that you read or listen to something light before bed. Anything that is too mentally stimulating will be counterproductive—so save the real page turners for the daytime.
Make a To-Do List
For many, before bed anxieties stem from what we feel we’ve left undone. Like journaling, making a to-do list can help get these onto a page and once they’re tangible, they seem more achievable. To-do lists allow you to regain some control, and once you know what needs to be done the next day, you’ll be able to sleep much more peacefully.
Make Some Noise
While sound machines may sound somewhat old school, they work! The soothing sounds of crashing waves or chirping crickets can be the just the thing to lull us into a deep sleep. And though you want your bedroom quiet, you don’t want it too quiet. A room with absolutely no noise actually makes you more susceptible to waking up at event the smallest sound. So turn on a fan, some calming sounds, or a white noise machine to help you catch some Zs!