Our heads can be a noisy place, especially when the rest of the world quiets down, and you’re trying to get some sleep. Then, it’s just you and your mind. Having my mind racing in bed at a mile a minute common for me. Some nights my anxiety and racing thoughts are worse than others. Here are some tips for how to stop mind racing in bed, so you wake up refreshed and ready to seize the day!
How to Stop Your Racing Thoughts At Night
There is no single approach for how to stop mind racing in bed. Everyone has different triggers that are going to cause anxious tendencies and throw off their sleep cycle.
We all have different skeletons we face in the dark, worries about tomorrow, and ideas for the world’s problems. That’s what makes us unique! So, you might need to try a couple of these approaches to help stop racing thoughts at night.
1. Figure Out What Causes Racing Thoughts at Night for You
A significant reason why you experience mind racing in bed is that you’re trying to find answers to something that’s bothering you. We live in a world of cause and effect. Something happened (cause), and we overthink the event (effect). Rinse and repeat.
Whether it’s an underlying health condition or a squabble with a loved one, there’s a reason you’re feeling uneasiness, anxiety, and racing thoughts.
Ask yourself: “Why do I have racing thoughts at night?”
Common reasons why I can’t sleep because my mind keeps racing are:
- Financial Worries (Bills, Job Security with COVID, Children Going to College)
- Friends and Family Relationships (Poor Choices By Loved Ones, Fight with Spouse, Loved One Passes Away)
- Illness (Aches, Flu Brewing, Insomnia, Depression)
What is your “why?” Take a moment to figure it out because this “why” is very powerful. It has the ability to disrupt your sleep, which can ruin your day by altering your mood, sabotage your career through a lack of productivity and focus, and create hormonal imbalances that might influence your fertility and vitality.
Pinpointing your “why” is perhaps the most critical for learning how to stop racing thoughts at night. When you identify your “why,” it gives this ominous presence a tangible identity.
Your racing mind is not just an ether of dread anymore. You’ve put a name to your issues, and you can work towards fixing them less blindly.
Even after you identify the “why,” you’ll be stuck with the “how.” How do you fix this stressor? Once you finally tackle that obstacle, you should have nothing in your way between yourself and a good night’s rest!
2. Think About Something Else
It sounds so simple, but it’s true. It’s almost like the tacky adage, “the best way to get over someone is to get…”
Well, you know the rest. The same goes for your racing thoughts in bed at night.
Now that you know what causes racing thoughts at night, it’s time to take the power back. Replace it with something else!
Obviously, you can think about happy thoughts. Remember good times with loved ones, the day you got your puppy, achieved a long awaited goal, or that wonderful summer staycation at the local beach you just had.
I find that those scenarios sometimes open up my imagination. I’ll start thinking about the people in these memories and wondering how they’re doing.
That’s why I find it helpful to create lists. Sounds boring? Great!
List anything that has a large number of answers, such as:
- State Names
- Sports Teams
- Dog Breeds
- Types of Flowers
- Crayola Colors
Keep it simple. The answers should come relatively quickly. If you choose something challenging that has you stumped, move on. Solving your list shouldn’t add to your racing thoughts in bed.
3. Schedule Your Time
Sometimes the most challenging part about going to sleep is worrying about the day ahead tomorrow. I tend to overthink all the things I perceived that I did wrong that day.
After I kick myself for a bit, I think of all the tasks I must accomplish the next day. This entire process can take hours, depending on how hard I decided to be on myself. It’s exhausting, yet not enough to make me go to sleep!
I found that scheduling my time the day before helps ease my mind racing in bed. I don’t need to plan out every minute of tomorrow in my head because I already have a schedule.
First, start with a weekly schedule that covers your important healthy benchmarks.
Make sure to factor in FIRST:
- Outdoor Time
These are your bodies’ essentials. Without them, they won’t produce the hormones responsible for our sleep-wake cycle, like melatonin and serotonin.
Keep other key factors in mind when scheduling your time out. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, you should stop drinking your coffee by 2pm. Caffeine has a half-life of five hours. If you have a mid-afternoon latte, your mind will still be racing by nightfall.
Also, don’t eat too late. Your body is already busy breaking down food and doesn’t need the added stress. It’s like giving homework the day before a big exam!
Then, factor in other necessities for paying your bills and keeping your mental health in check:
You’ll be amazed by how many gaps of time are still left open. You can use this time to be more productive with work or participate in hobbies that bring you joy. Both will take the pressure off of you and help your racing mind in bed at night.
4. Get Away From Electronics
Are the news and media giving you anxiety? How about your friends and family? If these were factors you identified as answers as to “why do I have racing thoughts at night?” then you should definitely limit your phone time.
Reading horrible headlines hours before going to sleep is just a recipe for racing thoughts at night. Having your friends and family weighing in on these issues and bickering amongst each other doesn’t help. Don’t even get me started if you partake in the drama yourself!
Not to mention, these smart devices are dumbing down our sleep-wake cycle. They are made with blue LED lights that mimic the rays of a freshly risen sun.
These lights trick our internal biological clock, known as our circadian rhythm. Try not to use electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime to maintain your natural melatonin production.
5. Spend 1/2 Hour Decompressing Before Bed
We get pushed and pulled in so many directions throughout the day. At night, we should take a moment to decompress and let ourselves consciously rest. You work hard. Enjoy yourself!
Sure, we love to watch some television. However, don’t binge-watch. Research shows binge-watching lowers our brain stimulation to a state very similar to that of depression. Plus, remember what I said about the blue lights?
Healthier ways to decompress before bed include:
- Spending Time with Family
- Going for a Neighborhood Walk
- Reading a Book
- Light Yoga
- Light Exercise
It’s crucial to exercise 20 to 30 minutes per day. Physical activity will help move about stagnant blood cells that cause inflammation and promotes hormone production necessary for sleep.
Just make sure not to workout too hard close to bedtime. Exercise promotes a bunch of feel-good endorphins.
Hey, racing thoughts at night don’t need to be negative ones. Think about the adrenaline wearing off after you won a softball game, crushed a presentation, or had a great first date. While you’ll feel great all night, it will be all night.
If your mind is racing in bed, then try to revert it. Turn off the noises in your head by overcoming it with visuals in your mind. Concentrating on a visualization can reel in the racing brain.
Some of my favorite visualizations include:
- A Flower Blooming
- Snowflakes Dancing
- Birds Flying South
- Waves Crashing
- Stars Slowly Moving in the Galaxy
Try to roll your eyes back and up to meet in the middle of your forehead. This area is your mind’s eye. Slowly try to imagine every color in the field of flowers, the details on the birds’ feathers, or the movements of the ocean.
If visualization is new to you, try a guided meditation. Many gifted hypnotherapists paint such clear images with their words. It will be easier for you to tap into this talent with a solid introduction from an expert in a video.
For those not into visualizations, you can also drown out the chatter with relaxing music. Put on a playlist of ocean waves, rain forests, or waterfalls.
Consider sound therapy with binaural beats. These play sounds into each ear at slightly different frequencies to help stimulate delta waves that help us sleep. Look up a video on YouTube that plays music recorded at frequencies between 0.5–4 Hz.
7. Retrain Your Pineal Gland
The sleep hormone melatonin is produced in our pineal gland and is regulated by our 24-hour circadian rhythm. The pineal gland sits back between our eyes, in the area in which they would converge to make a triangle.
This gland is activated by light. It produces melatonin as the sun goes down, which causes us to feel sleepy. Naturally, we produce less of our upper hormones, like adrenaline and serotonin.
As the night comes to an end, sunlight creeps in our window. Its rays charge our pineal gland through the thin flap of skin that composes our eyelids.
The sun’s blue wavelengths break through the dark night as early as 3:00 AM. These rays slow down melatonin production. That’s why I suggest no LED lights near bedtime to curb anxiety and racing thoughts at night.
Retrain your pineal gland by sticking to a schedule, as we discussed before. Start with waking up early to watch the sunrise.
Sungazing is an excellent way to energize your cells and improve your mood. It also lets your circadian rhythm know, “Okay, this is sunrise.”
Now, you might struggle a bit through the day. I found that using something like Tranquility Labs’ Tranquilene really helped with brain fog caused by my reset.
What you do during the day sets the tone for your night. So, I make it a habit to go outside multiple times per day. This healthy habit provides my body with Vitamin D, which is essential for mood and sleep regulation. However, it also calibrates the circadian rhythm.
At night, I stopped using devices. My pineal gland registered that the sun went down. Between that and the fact I woke up early, I was ready for bed.
The next day, I got up a little later. This process continued for a couple more days until I reached my “normal” wake-up time.
8. Set the Mood for a Good Night Sleep
Sometimes your mind racing in bed has nothing to do with stress and everything to do with the atmosphere. If your room isn’t conducive to a good night’s sleep, you’re not going to have one.
For one, make sure you have clean sheets. Research shows that there are a plethora of bacteria all over the bed. These can infiltrate our bodies through our mouths, skin, and other openings. In turn, they cause immune responses that create oxidative stress.
If our cells don’t get rest, we don’t get rest. So, we stay up with racing thoughts at night. Experts suggest washing your sheets at least every two weeks.
Also, make sure the room is set to the right temperature. Heat can actually cause us to wake up in the middle of a sleep cycle.
Researchers suggest that 65° F is the ideal temperature for sleep. However, if you are a blanket hog, 60.8° F will suffice!
Lastly, use aromatherapy to help ease yourself into a peaceful slumber. Essential oils are rich in terpenes that activate our olfactory system in our nasal cavity. This unique pathway gives these plant-based chemicals carte blanche access to the brain.
Different essential oils have unique benefits that can promote a good night’s rest. For instance, lavender essential oil is rich in linalool, which helps promote relaxation throughout the body. Meanwhile, clary sage has linalyl acetate, which helps lower our stress hormone, cortisol.
Some of the best essential oils for sleep include:
- Lavender Oil – Increases Slow-Wave Sleep
- Clary Sage Oil – Helps Lower Cortisol
- Roman Chamomile Oil – Improves Anxiety Symptoms
- Peppermint Oil – Anti-Inflammatory, Helps with Sleep Apnea and Snoring
- Valerian Oil – Helps Break Down GABA to Cause Calming Effects
You can diffuse essential oils with water in a diffuser throughout the night or set it on an hourly timer. Some prefer to put a couple of drops on their pillow.
Just make sure your skin isn’t sensitive to the essential oil before sleeping on it. Of the best essential oils for sleep, lavender is the least abrasive on the skin and could be a good start for you.
9. Massage with Loved One
If you already have the essential oils out, might as well get a massage in. There has been much research done on the benefits of massage therapy for anxiety and racing thoughts. Nothing is more therapeutic than the touch of someone you love!
Essential oils are highly concentrated and can be abrasive to the skin. So, a few drops go a long way. Make sure you integrate essential oils with a thicker body oil.
Some of the best massage oil bases include:
- Coconut Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Jojoba Oil
- Rosehip Oil
- Sweet Almond Oil
Mix and match to find blends that you enjoy. Just make sure you store these volatile chemicals in an amber or glass jar to avoid degradation of their benefits.
10. Natural Remedy: Sleep-Fast
The best way to shut off the mental chatter is to sleep through it. Expedite the process naturally with Tranquility Labs’ Sleep-Fast (Due to overwhelming demand, this solution is temporarily out of stock. We’re eagerly expecting it by the end of November, so please check back.)
This all-natural melatonin spray is fast-acting because you absorb these hormones in your mouth. It gives your mind instant access to melatonin, which naturally lowers stress hormones impeding our own natural hormone production.
It also contains 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), the precursor to serotonin. Serotonin promotes a happy mood, which can deter the frequency of racing thoughts in bed at night.
However, serotonin is also essential for our sleep-wake cycle. Since 5-HTP is the precursor, serotonin isn’t readily available when you sleep. As you produce it, you’ll feel refreshed and optimistic in the morning.
Sleep-Fast is further enhanced with other stress-reducing botanicals, such as chamomile. As we mentioned earlier, this potent flower has amazing benefits, such as easing anxiety and racing thoughts.
It’s also fortified with Valerian root. Also noted in the essential oil section, this powerful plant can help our body metabolize GABA so that our excited brain cells slow down for the night.
Lemon balm helps round out the botanicals in this all-natural sleep remedy. This plant is a member of the mint family, which I talked about earlier, can improve sleep patterns.
Now That You Know What Causes Racing Thoughts At Night, Go to Sleep!
Beauty sleep keeps you looking, thinking, and feeling young. Without a solid seven to eight hours of rest, our body’s cells don’t have enough time to perform their functions properly. Inevitably, this miscommunication will throw off our circadian rhythm and increase the frequency of racing thoughts at night.
By following these tips, you will have a better chance at a good night’s rest. Just start with the “why.” Give it an identity and work through that issue in the daytime.
Speaking of daytime, what you do during this span matters. Set yourself up for success with plenty of sunlight that will recalibrate your pineal gland. Exercise 20 to 30 minutes per day, and not too close to bed. Also, cut back on caffeine and food after dark.
Of course, you must prep for your night the right way. Set the mood with essential oils, clean sheets, and the perfect temperature. Unwind with loved ones or share a massage with your partner. Lastly, spray yourself to good sleep with Tranquility Labs’ Sleep-Fast.
Anxiety and racing thoughts go hand-in-hand. Work on yourself day and night, and your body will snap into the perfect circadian rhythm that works for you and your cells. That will be the key for how to stop mind racing in bed at night and keep you at your best. Have a great night’s sleep!
- Find the answer to “Why do I have racing thoughts at night?”
- Set your night up for success with good daytime habits like plenty of sunlight, exercise, and limited caffeine intake.
- Use essential oils, cool temperatures, and Sleep-Fast to help ease racing thoughts at night.