I love sleep. I mean, who doesn’t? Sleep is mad good and naps make my world go ’round. Sleep is super important. Good sleep hits the refresh button on your brain and makes your face slightly more dateable. That sounds awesome, right? What’s the problem then? The problem is something that makes sleep hard to come by. The problem, my dear reader, is worry.
My Google search(es) this week tried to answer the one question that has intrigued me for as long as I can remember: What is it about getting ready to fall asleep that seems to turn the volume up on every single negative thought that can cross a person’s mind? What’s with that period after midnight that will just make you reflect on every single mistake you’ve ever made? Maybe I’m exaggerating a tiny bit to make this column funnier or more fun for you to read but it happens to me and I’m sure some – if not most of you – will relate.
For many of us, as soon as it’s time for bed, the brain begins buzzing. We might experience racing thoughts or a thought or two that keeps gnawing at us. A boy who never calls, a coworker who makes your life miserable, a parent who’s not very proud of you even though you’re doing the best you can to please them, a bank account that never seems to have any money in it… So many things can worry you. A lot of them can be things you’d normally overlook or things that would never cross your mind during the day, either because they’re relatively trivial or because you were just too busy to think about them. For a long time, as soon as those lights were out and everything calmed down, I became preoccupied with random “what if”s and worst case scenarios. Unrelenting doubts and fears took over me and it became increasingly hard for me to fall asleep. It was never the good type of worrying that spurs you to take action and solve a problem. It was the paralyzing kind. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? It’s not that bad once you get to the bottom of it.
So what really happens? Here’s the cliff notes:
- Conscious mind acts as a filter to all the information streaming into it: events, sounds, how hungry you are, etc.
- Most information in our environment is picked up by the subconscious mind and is recorded.
- Our brains can’t handle all this recorded information so they’re filtered by the conscious mind.
- A piece of information is only saved if we attach some value to it. All other data is filtered out.
- Before we go to bed, our mind relaxes and doesn’t filter information as much.
- When the conscious mind starts to rest, all the information that was recorded in the subconscious mind starts to bubble up.
- Everything that happened, everything we’ve experienced, seen and heard starts to play out in our minds.
- This gets added to all the things that didn’t get done, our ongoing frustrations, and all the problems we have to face and we build even more tension. We toss and turn all night until our brains get so tired they shut down.
So when I Googled ways to deal with things like “too much worrying before bed”, “insomnia”, “how to get a good night’s sleep”, etc., these are ten of the most common solutions that I found:
1. Realize sleep is essential.
Ha! Yeah. I didn’t need anyone to tell me that sleep is super important. Thanks.
2. Have a regular sleep schedule.
I regularly sleep all day so I got this one in the bag.
3. Read a good book.
I have internet. Sorry.
4. Learn how to relax (meditation, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation)
Me? Relax? Good one.
5. Exercise regularly.
Reaching for the remote counts, right?
6. Don’t nap during the day.
7. Write down your worries — earlier in the day.
I usually tweet late at night but if tweeting earlier in the day will help I’ll do it!!
8. Focus on the positive.
9. Avoid caffeine.
Only if you avoid breathing.
10. Take a warm bath.
I came up with that one. I wrote it because it works for me sometimes even though it’s not really mentioned on the internet.
That’s it for this week’s installment of My Recent Google Searches! Even though I still find it hard to fall asleep sometimes, my case has drastically improved ever since I took the internet’s advice. If you have some thoughts please share them with me in the comment section below or @ me on twitter or whatever. Have a great, sleepy Thursday!
Featured photo by Cap’n Bart Firepants (cool name!) on Flickr, dictionary screenshot from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.
Thanks to psychcentral.com for the valuable information in this article.