How to finally fall asleep at night even if your mind is busy

What type of person are you? 1 You go to bed you close your eyes and fall asleep or 2 You go to bed you switch off the light and close your eyes and all of a sudden every tiny idea, sorrow, worry, the to-do list for tomorrow, the one person that you wanted to call since weeks, and even the content of your fridge keeps you awake.

Conrad is the first type.

I am the second type.

I call it the carousel, that just starts turning once the lights are off and you are finally allowed to sleep.

Even after being tired all day long (the night before was just too short again) and I already fall asleep while watching TV – the moment I lie in bed and want to sleep: no chance, the carousel starts and my thoughts enjoy the crazy ride on this roller coaster.

Without knowing for sure I am guessing that I am not the only one here who knows the carousel of darkness (sounds pretty scary doesn’t it? But it really only starts turning once it is dark…)

So here are my five tips to stop the carousel and finally fall asleep

  1. keep a to-do list by your bed

Keep a piece of paper and a pen or a list on your phone ( I use Wunderlist but any note app or app for to-dos can do the same) by your bedside. While the things that you have to do, should do or even the once that are not important but still keep you awake come rushing through your head you can pick up your list and add each single item to your list. Like this, it is out of your head and you know for sure you won’t forget them. With each written item your mind will slow down as it knows now that it doesn’t need to keep you awake with those points. Sometimes I am really surprised when I read the list the next morning what kind of stuff (like real stuff: tidy up the garage, get new peanut butter…) keeps me awake.

2. listen to an audio book or to music

While the first point should get your head empty the second one should predominate your thoughts. When you listen to an audio book your mind is busy with the story instead of thinking about your to-do list or your worries. If an actual audio book is too intense for you or you have a bed-mate that doesn’t want to listen to the audio book you can still try music. For me relaxing music works best. I am sure for other’s pop music is also fine but for me, it is more the classic relax music (there are some great lists on Spotify). Just make sure: avoid music with waterfalls in it or every time you are almost falling asleep you need to get up and walk to the toilet – TRUE STORY.

3. read an easy book or start telling yourself a story

If your roommate still doesn’t agree to listen to music you can always read a book. I have a kindle e-reader which makes it super easy to read in the dark without a light on in the room. Also, the noise of turning over the pages doesn’t disturb your flatmate (true story again). Reading a book has the same or an even better effect on your brain – it keeps you busy thinking about the story instead of thinking about the to-dos. From my experience, a book that is easy written and a story that catches me works much better to fall asleep than reading about taxes, business tips or self-improvement (though the topic of taxes lets me even fall asleep during the day). It is easier to get distracted by a story or a book that carries you away instead of topics you have to think about again.

4. Tell yourself a story

This might not be for everyone I must admit upfront. Sometimes it works much better for me to just lie there without the book and imagine myself stories. Often I think about how a book that I read before might continue, or a movie or a series on Netflix. Sometimes I tell myself a whole new story. I narrate the story myself in my head. But like I said, I am not sure if that works only for me or if it might also work for others too. If this point is not for you just ignore it.

5. Relax your jaw

This might sound too strange I know but it really really works. I lay down- preferably not on my belly as the jaw needs to be loose and not pressed into the pillow. And I breathe a deep breath in and while breathing out I relax my jaw. Just try it once before you just say that I am crazy. The first time I did it I was really surprised how much tension was held in my jaw. Next big breath in and out again and relax your jaw even more, can you feel that you are already more relaxed? Do this 3-to five times and take really big breaths and you will realize that your breathing gets slower after each breath out and you will see that with the relaxation of your jaw not only your breaths slow down but you will too. Your focus on the breathing and the relaxation on the jaw will slow down your mind and maybe you just fall asleep. If you relax but you don’t fall asleep yet just do it over again. You can never relax too much.

Good night…and sleep well  ;-)