Do you often find yourself unable to sleep because you feel like your brain won’t shut off? As it turns out, you’re not alone. A large percentage of people who suffer from a mental illness like anxiety, depression, or OCD are more likely to experience insomnia and racing thoughts at night. But what exactly causes this inability to turn the volume down in your mind?
There are a variety of things that can cause insomnia and racing thoughts, with the most common being excess stress, underlying mental illness, or even excess blue light before bed. Luckily, there are different things you can try to alleviate some of the stress from racing thoughts at night.
In this article, we’ll explain what causes your mind to race, how to schedule worry time, what to do when addressing your stressors, and how to prepare yourself for a successful night’s sleep.
The most commonly reported causes for insomnia are excessive stress, an irregular sleeping schedule or poor sleep habits, a variety of mental health disorders, a physical illness, some medications, and other sleep disorders.
Naturally, when a person is Trusted SourceRacing Thoughts: Tips for Coping If your racing thoughts typically occur at night when you’re trying to sleep, make changes to your routine before bed so that you can relax and sleep peacefully. Try to eliminate stress for at least two hours before sleep. You can meditate or practice gentle yoga, and read a relaxing book or take a bubble bath. Avoid all electronic screens and overly stimulating mental activity in those two hours before bed. www.healthline.com to fall asleep, and their living space is quiet and dark, the mind has a tendency to go off on a tangent. One moment you may find yourself trying to fall asleep, and the next, you’re rethinking every social interaction you’ve ever made in your lifetime.
Trusted SourceUnderstanding Racing Thoughts and Their Causes | Pyramid Family Behavioral Healthcare Racing thoughts are connected to different types of behavioral health conditions. Of all the racing thought causes, anxiety and depression are most common. pyramidfbh.com are the words that run through your brain that you can’t seem to slow down or stop. These consistent and typically intrusive thoughts come in rapid succession, and it’s difficult to process the first thought before the next one shoves it out of the way. Your nerves then become overstimulated, and it makes it incredibly difficult to calm your body down for sleep.
But what’s the difference between racing thoughts and regular thoughts? For starters, you’re able to acknowledge your regular thoughts and put them in a box somewhere. Racing thoughts, on the other hand, have a mind of their own, so to speak. In other words, it may feel like your thoughts are controlling you rather than the other way around. Along with that, they typically spiral downward, which then causes a person to fall into the form of an anxiety or panic attack.
Racing thoughts happen because of a few different issues. For starters, anxiety and other mental health issues like depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can trigger these racing and intrusive thoughts at night. When you’re in a mental health episode, it’s difficult to feel grounded in the present.
“Worry time” is a tool commonly used in Trusted SourceStimulus control applications to the treatment of worry | Request PDF As an internal, self-generated event, worrisome cognitive activity can occur under a wide variety of environmental conditions. The contiguity of the activity and diverse cues would suggest that poor discriminative control is established, and, conversely, that subject-initiated restriction of the temporal and environmental cues for the occurrence of the activity may reduce its frequency during the day. Two experiments are reported wherein self-labeled worriers received either no-treatment or a 4-week trial of stimulus control instructions designed to effect such a restriction. Daily worry reports were found to decline significantly among treated subjects relative to controls. www.researchgate.net . The purpose of this tool is to help you regain control over how often and when you worry about various things that may keep you up at night. To do this, you simply contain all of your worries to a designated period of time during your day. This way, you can worry about it at that time rather than at night when you’re trying to fall asleep.
While thinking is a vital part of human behavior, worrying happens when that thinking derails, and you begin imagining the worst of any situation. When you worry, it’s like you can’t control your thoughts, as opposed to thinking where you’re generating those thoughts and acting upon them. If you think this may be helpful to you, follow these steps to schedule your own “worry time”:
Your next step in helping alleviate racing thoughts and insomnia is to address the stressors that are constants in your life. Trying to solve all of them at once may just make your sleeping issues worse.
Write down each of your stressors and what about them is causing you excessive stress. For example, let’s say you’re a parent who works from home but has a major deadline coming up. Your regular babysitter or nanny is out for whatever reason. While the main stressor is that work deadline, the contributing factors could be:
As you can see, each of these factors on its own would be enough to cause a huge amount of stress. Now when you pair each of them together, your stress level becomes almost astronomical. When it comes to breaking the stressor down, here’s what you could do:
Of course, this process will still take some time. However, you may find that going from most to least stressful in terms of contributing factors means you solve a lower priority while working on one of the more prominent factors.
Referring back to our example, let’s say your electrical or internet issue has been resolved, and now you’ve decided childcare is the next most important.
Keeping up with a solid bedtime routine will also help you regulate your body for a consistent bedtime. It may be helpful to set the alarm for the same time each night and begin your nightly routine whenever that alarm goes off. This way, you train your body into getting sleepy at the right time.
The most important thing you can do to encourage your body to get a good night’s sleep is to disconnect before bedtime. Don’t spend extra time on your phone while you’re lying in bed, especially when the light is off. Doing this will trick your body’s circadian rhythm into thinking it’s daytime when it isn’t.
After you’ve put away your phone, computer, or another electronic device for the night, it’s helpful to find a relaxing activity to do before going to sleep. This could be anything from reading, journaling, drawing, or practicing yoga.
On top of that, it’s important to make sure you’re using a mattress comfortable to your preference. According to most reviewers, the Puffy Mattress is a good line because they offer a variety of different mattresses with varying levels of firmness. Alongside a good mattress, a good quality pillow is important to have too. After all, it’s what cradles your head while you’re in bed.
Many customers recommend the Sleep&Glow Omnia Anti-Aging Beauty Pillow because it’s made of comfortable memory foam, has an adjustable height, and was designed by a group of orthopedic experts.
Dealing with racing thoughts at night is tough. It’s difficult to get your mind back to a grounded state when you feel like your brain has a serious case of the zoomies. However, these racing thoughts can be alleviated by making addressing major stressors and solving any issues with them, as well as scheduling allotted worry time to let it all out before you relax for bedtime. Regardless of what you do, we hope this article has been helpful for you.