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I Can’t “Turn Off My Mind” at Night, How Do I Do That?

Having a racing mind at night is very common. Shamash shares some personal experiences on how he works with turning off his mind in the evening.

Hey, Shamash here. I've been asked the question, I can't turn my mind off at night. How do I do that? Sleep can be one of our biggest challenges in modern society. And having a racing mind at night is such a common issue that so many of us face. So first of all, before I start, remember, don't worry.

It's definitely not just you. Today, I will share some quick fixes you can try as well as some longer term ideas that could help you too. I found a combination of these approaches have helped me on the days or weeks when I've struggled to fall asleep. So if you wish to try a quick fix, first of all, have a go at doing a body scan as you lie in bed. One of my friends does this every night and says it always helps to calm his mind and fall asleep.

So the way to do this is just begin with your feet as they're furthest away from your head, and just feel the sensations there for three breaths. You can even wiggle your toes a bit, if you like, to help you feel the sensations there. And then after feeling them for three breaths, you just gradually move up your body. So you move up to your lower legs. And again, feel the sensations there.

Count three breaths. And then continue doing this as you make your way up your body. Your knees, your upper legs, your pelvis, and so on. If you somehow managed to make it all the way to the top of your body and haven't fallen asleep, just start from the top of your head and make your way back down your body again. Now it doesn't exactly have to be three breaths.

You can do five breaths or one breath or two breaths, however many works for you. As with all of these exercises that I share, experiment and feel free to do what works for you. We all have different preferences. Another easy solution would be to listen to any of the guided meditations that you have available in this app. Any that you find soothing.

Some people find meditation's very relaxing and a great way to fall asleep. Others find guided meditations energizing. So again, experiment to see what works for you. If there, if you find them very energizing, then maybe that's not the right approach. When my mind is really kind of full up with thoughts, one technique I like is called mindful journaling.

I just take a few sheets of paper or a journal, and I begin by taking a few deep, slow and conscious breaths. Then, I simply right down a stream of consciousness. I just keep writing whatever comes into my head. I find that after maybe even less than five minutes, I just run out of things to write about. I always think I can keep writing, but usually run out of things to write and my head kind of empties.

Our worry is often a series of short thoughts that just kind of keep going around and round in our heads. But once you write it down, they can often lose their power and seem quite boring, to be honest. So, if you sit up in bed and do some mindful journaling, just for a few minutes with a dim light on, that might work for you. So you could try that. Another unique approach is what I call the opposite technique.

It's actually one of my favorite techniques to play with. If your mind has been racing and you've been struggling to sleep, I'm guessing that you've actually tried to stop your thoughts and it hasn't worked. So how about trying the opposite. Instead of trying to stop your crazy thoughts, try welcoming them in. Say to your mind, Hey mind, sorry I've been trying too hard to control you.

And I know you don't like that. So now I invite you to think as much as you wish. I'll just be here watching you and listening to you in a friendly way. Think as much, or as little as you wish. So over to you.

So you can try that approach and see if that works. I also use the opposite technique when it comes to trying to fall asleep. Instead of trying to fall asleep, I sometimes play with the idea of trying to stay awake and watching my thoughts. That works for me sometimes too. And I find it much less frustrating than the effort of trying to fall asleep.

When you try this, if your mind can't think of anything, that's great. Just enjoy the silence of mind. And if your mind does think of something to think about, that's also great. Remember the idea is that you let your mind do the thinking rather than you trying to think. Your job is more just to kind of sit back and watch and listen to the mind, without any sense of trying to control it in any way.

A bit like sitting back and watching a movie. You don't control it. You just watch it. Beyond these little tips and tricks you can do in the moment, think about having a regular bedtime routine by going to bed at a certain time and having some time to unwind. If you're watching lots of television or looking at screens just before going to bed, that's most likely going to cause your mind to be busy when you lie in bed.

So try leaving your phone in a different room rather than your bedroom and see if that works for you. That does work for many people. Also consider what activities you did in the day. Did you do any physical activity to get your body moving? Did you eat well? If you consume a heavy meal just before bed, that could cause your mind to race. I know, for me, if I drink any caffeine beyond about 3:00 or 4:00 PM, I actually can't fall asleep easily.

And my mind starts to think a lot. Caffeine usually stays in the system for many hours actually, and affects some people more than others. Another nice routine to do before going to bed is some nice, slow, mindful movements. Any kind of simple stretches will do, actually. The idea is that you're aware of the movement of your body together with your breathing.

So let the movements be nice and smooth and slow. You could start simple by doing even less than one minute of stretching and breathing. And then just do more than that, if you feel called to. So it doesn't have to be a long session, if you don't feel like that. Remember, if your mind is very busy during the day, it's much more likely to keep racing when we hit the pillow.

So think about smaller, easy ways to be more mindful during the day. That way, you become more present with your moment to moment activities, and you're less likely to have your mind so busy at night. One simple approach, for example, is each time you sit down to have a meal, you just take at least one deep conscious breath. You feel each in and out-breath. And then each time you notice yourself feeling rushed or stressed or anxious during the day, rather than rushing even more, you just stop and take at least one breath, more if you want, but at least one.

This will begin to help you to be more mindful during the day and make your mind more settled once you do go to bed. So I've given you quite a lot of ideas there. So try and see whatever approach you feel you want to try and that you think intuitively may be effective for you. I recommend small, simple, easy steps and playfully experimenting with different techniques is the key to helping yourself. Thanks so much for listening.

I do hope you're able to experience a nice restful sleep soon. Remember, you're certainly not alone in having a busy mind at night. May you be kind and understanding with yourself the next time you're struggling to sleep.

Talk

4.6

I Can’t “Turn Off My Mind” at Night, How Do I Do That?

Having a racing mind at night is very common. Shamash shares some personal experiences on how he works with turning off his mind in the evening.

Duration

Your default time is based on your progress and is changed automatically as you practice.

Hey, Shamash here. I've been asked the question, I can't turn my mind off at night. How do I do that? Sleep can be one of our biggest challenges in modern society. And having a racing mind at night is such a common issue that so many of us face. So first of all, before I start, remember, don't worry.

It's definitely not just you. Today, I will share some quick fixes you can try as well as some longer term ideas that could help you too. I found a combination of these approaches have helped me on the days or weeks when I've struggled to fall asleep. So if you wish to try a quick fix, first of all, have a go at doing a body scan as you lie in bed. One of my friends does this every night and says it always helps to calm his mind and fall asleep.

So the way to do this is just begin with your feet as they're furthest away from your head, and just feel the sensations there for three breaths. You can even wiggle your toes a bit, if you like, to help you feel the sensations there. And then after feeling them for three breaths, you just gradually move up your body. So you move up to your lower legs. And again, feel the sensations there.

Count three breaths. And then continue doing this as you make your way up your body. Your knees, your upper legs, your pelvis, and so on. If you somehow managed to make it all the way to the top of your body and haven't fallen asleep, just start from the top of your head and make your way back down your body again. Now it doesn't exactly have to be three breaths.

You can do five breaths or one breath or two breaths, however many works for you. As with all of these exercises that I share, experiment and feel free to do what works for you. We all have different preferences. Another easy solution would be to listen to any of the guided meditations that you have available in this app. Any that you find soothing.

Some people find meditation's very relaxing and a great way to fall asleep. Others find guided meditations energizing. So again, experiment to see what works for you. If there, if you find them very energizing, then maybe that's not the right approach. When my mind is really kind of full up with thoughts, one technique I like is called mindful journaling.

I just take a few sheets of paper or a journal, and I begin by taking a few deep, slow and conscious breaths. Then, I simply right down a stream of consciousness. I just keep writing whatever comes into my head. I find that after maybe even less than five minutes, I just run out of things to write about. I always think I can keep writing, but usually run out of things to write and my head kind of empties.

Our worry is often a series of short thoughts that just kind of keep going around and round in our heads. But once you write it down, they can often lose their power and seem quite boring, to be honest. So, if you sit up in bed and do some mindful journaling, just for a few minutes with a dim light on, that might work for you. So you could try that. Another unique approach is what I call the opposite technique.

It's actually one of my favorite techniques to play with. If your mind has been racing and you've been struggling to sleep, I'm guessing that you've actually tried to stop your thoughts and it hasn't worked. So how about trying the opposite. Instead of trying to stop your crazy thoughts, try welcoming them in. Say to your mind, Hey mind, sorry I've been trying too hard to control you.

And I know you don't like that. So now I invite you to think as much as you wish. I'll just be here watching you and listening to you in a friendly way. Think as much, or as little as you wish. So over to you.

So you can try that approach and see if that works. I also use the opposite technique when it comes to trying to fall asleep. Instead of trying to fall asleep, I sometimes play with the idea of trying to stay awake and watching my thoughts. That works for me sometimes too. And I find it much less frustrating than the effort of trying to fall asleep.

When you try this, if your mind can't think of anything, that's great. Just enjoy the silence of mind. And if your mind does think of something to think about, that's also great. Remember the idea is that you let your mind do the thinking rather than you trying to think. Your job is more just to kind of sit back and watch and listen to the mind, without any sense of trying to control it in any way.

A bit like sitting back and watching a movie. You don't control it. You just watch it. Beyond these little tips and tricks you can do in the moment, think about having a regular bedtime routine by going to bed at a certain time and having some time to unwind. If you're watching lots of television or looking at screens just before going to bed, that's most likely going to cause your mind to be busy when you lie in bed.

So try leaving your phone in a different room rather than your bedroom and see if that works for you. That does work for many people. Also consider what activities you did in the day. Did you do any physical activity to get your body moving? Did you eat well? If you consume a heavy meal just before bed, that could cause your mind to race. I know, for me, if I drink any caffeine beyond about 3:00 or 4:00 PM, I actually can't fall asleep easily.

And my mind starts to think a lot. Caffeine usually stays in the system for many hours actually, and affects some people more than others. Another nice routine to do before going to bed is some nice, slow, mindful movements. Any kind of simple stretches will do, actually. The idea is that you're aware of the movement of your body together with your breathing.

So let the movements be nice and smooth and slow. You could start simple by doing even less than one minute of stretching and breathing. And then just do more than that, if you feel called to. So it doesn't have to be a long session, if you don't feel like that. Remember, if your mind is very busy during the day, it's much more likely to keep racing when we hit the pillow.

So think about smaller, easy ways to be more mindful during the day. That way, you become more present with your moment to moment activities, and you're less likely to have your mind so busy at night. One simple approach, for example, is each time you sit down to have a meal, you just take at least one deep conscious breath. You feel each in and out-breath. And then each time you notice yourself feeling rushed or stressed or anxious during the day, rather than rushing even more, you just stop and take at least one breath, more if you want, but at least one.

This will begin to help you to be more mindful during the day and make your mind more settled once you do go to bed. So I've given you quite a lot of ideas there. So try and see whatever approach you feel you want to try and that you think intuitively may be effective for you. I recommend small, simple, easy steps and playfully experimenting with different techniques is the key to helping yourself. Thanks so much for listening.

I do hope you're able to experience a nice restful sleep soon. Remember, you're certainly not alone in having a busy mind at night. May you be kind and understanding with yourself the next time you're struggling to sleep.

Talk

4.6

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