If you have a full life and full days like me, your brain probably runs like a freight train at 200 miles/hour all day long. Slowing down our brains, our bodies, and our breath is important to do as we transition to rest each evening. As we mentioned in our last sleep blog, shutting down any screens and blue light an hour before bed is an important signal to your brain to prepare to sleep. Here are a five other ways to help focus your mind:
- Write a list – I do a ‘brain dump’ each evening to let my brain know it doesn’t need to remind me of things all night long. This sometimes means adding events in my calendar, writing in my ‘to do’ list in my planner, or making a note to call or text someone. I also keep paper and pen close to my bed, as my creative juices are often flowing late in the evening or early in the morning.
- Read something positive – The hours before sleep and just after waking are the most important for subconscious programming. Scary shows and creepy books have always affected my sleep poorly. I love to read something that makes me feel good prior to bedtime, whether it’s a book that makes me laugh, reading the Bible, or just something relaxing.
- Meditation – Guided meditations have become one of my favorite ways to wind down before bed. Tapping into the brain’s creative power to focus on what you want in your life just before turning out the light makes for a positive and restful sleep. Some fantastic apps include Headspace (great for guided meditation) and Calm (specifically for sleep).
- Calming music – Listening to peaceful sounds or music is a great way to signal sleep to your body. My favorite is listening to MPR while reading a book.
- Practice Gratitude- What you focus on grows. Gratitude is the antidote to anxiety. As your focus on what you’re grateful for each day, you become more and more joyful and addicted to this habit. My family names the item at the top of our gratitude list every evening as we put our daughters to bed. Later, I love to do a detailed list mentally or on paper highlighting people, situations, and things that have made my life amazing that day.