Here's how to best clear your mind at night...
As we strive to navigate the hustle and bustle of the world around us, it is not uncommon to feel like our brain is about as organised as a bowl of spaghetti. Managing work commitments, bill stress and social events can make it nearly impossible to not think about all the things we need to do at all the wrong moments. And, while we can’t save you from every stressful brain wander, we believe that everyone deserves to switch off long enough to achieve a restful night's sleep. So this post has been dedicated to creating an easy-does-it mindfulness guide that empowers you to tackle your overthinking so that you don’t need to add googling 'How do I calm the mind before sleep’ to your already busy to-do-list!
What is Mindfulness?
Before we delve into clearing your mind and fast-tracking you towards a ZENsational night’s sleep, let’s first explore exactly what being mindful means. Mindfulness is defined as maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surroundings in an impartial manner. A learned process commonly undertaken through meditation, mindfulness involves a higher level of personal acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them. This also suggests that rather than looking to eliminate our thoughts or simply pretend they don't exist, we become better aware of ourselves and work to eliminate the stress associated with our overthinking instead.
Mindfulness meditation takes this understanding of being mindful and delivers it in a way that can be undertaken by anyone looking to develop a better relationship with their mind. It often suggests that you find a place to sit that is free of distraction where you can close your eyes and check-in with yourself. Mindful meditation ranges anywhere between 5-minutes to 1 hour and with the right understanding can be personally led (you go with your own flow) or guided just like this audio session here.
How Busy Minds Block Sleep
Unfortunately, one of the guarantees of adulthood is that we are likely to experience bouts of stress at some point in our lives. A recent study by Harvard went as far as suggesting that 8 in 10 of us will experience some level of stress every single day. But, as we increasingly look for ways to avoid stress, one of the significant downfalls to technology is that despite our relaxing location, the frequent buzz in our pockets and/or fear of missing out often stops us from switching off altogether. This means that more of us are carrying our daily issues into our evening wind-down.
Significantly, every time we catch ourselves stressing out at night, we disable our brain's ability to naturally roll into a restful state of sleep, triggering restless behaviour and repressing all the critical signalling our body needs to promotes internal healing, restoration, weight regulation and mood function, so, it's quite a big deal! Fortunately, it's not all doom and gloom! Knowing that stress and overthinking are unavoidable facts of life, this is where we apply our understanding of mindfulness and meditation to best combat the effects of stress and sets sail for a better night’s sleep! We can also add Calming aids to our sleep routine, such as our Calm Drops, Calm Essential Oil Roll On and Calm Essential Oil Blend.
Mindfulness for sleep
There are many ways you can practise mindfulness, so it's important to find what works best for you.
Most commonly, mindfulness and mindful meditation look like this:
- Guided or unguided, it's best to create a quiet space free of people, technology and harsh light.
- Once you've created your mindful space, position yourself comfortably and close your eyes.
- If you're being guided, you will often be asked to focus on your breathing and when your mind wanders (which is totally normal!) you can gently guide your consciousness back to following the ebbs and flows of your breath.
- Once you’ve comfortably narrowed your concentration toward your breath, begin to widen your focus and become objectively aware of your feelings and ideas.
- Embrace and consider each thought or sensation without judging it and if your mind begins to race, return your focus to your breathing until you’re ready to expand your awareness again.
Some people also practise mindful meditation by incorporating the art of journaling to help move the stress of 'to-do' onto a list for the following day.
Mindful meditation can be practised at any time of the day, but for sleep purposes, we suggest allocating time for yourself around an hour before bed. This gives you a chance to get through the buzz of an over dinner family debrief, kitchen clean up and any unavoidable work duties.
Like any new skill, practice makes perfect! So don't feel disheartened if you don't master the art of mindfulness right away. To give yourself the best chance at nailing your unwind, we suggest enhancing your mindful practice with natural tools like calming roll-ons, diffusers and eye masks to block out external factors.
If you’re not sure where to get started, here are a few of our favourite mindful resources:
- Thrive - Arianna Huffington
While mindfulness is a great way to manage stress and overthinking, we must stress (no pun intended) that practising meditation and mindfulness should never substitute a nights sleep. Nor should it replace healthy lifestyle habits like eating well and regular exercise. Life is all about balance and sleep makes no exception to the rule!