If your brain is anything like mine then it’s constantly overflowing with what needs to get done, dates to remember, spontaneous ideas that could be the next big “thing” or the plot details of that best-selling book you promised yourself to write.
We process thousands of thoughts per day. So, naturally, a majority of them need to occur the minute after we get into bed. Jokes aside, our minds tend to go into overdrive the moment we stop doing and moving for the day.
The endless mind chatter can be deafening if we don’t learn how to effectively quiet our minds. Not only that, the duration and quality of our sleep can be negatively impacted if we don’t learn how to quiet our minds. Ensuring that we receive ample amounts of high-quality sleep is essential if we are to live our most optimal lives.
In my life-long quest to uncover the most effective ways to quiet our minds before sleep, these are the 8 practices I’ve found to be the most beneficial… and peaceful!
Ideally, you’ll meditate before getting into bed because it could quickly turn into a sleeping meditation! Trust me. Been there, done that.
Allowing ourselves to tune in and honor our thoughts by letting them come and go can have a profound effect on our mental wellbeing both in the short-term and long-term. The impact meditation has on one’s mind, body and soul has been revered for centuries.
If you find meditating on your own to be challenging, guided meditations on YouTube are also a wonderful way to bring awareness to ourselves, quiet our minds and prepare for a restful slumber.
Writing a To-Do or Want-To-Do List
Writing down everything you need to do the next day really helps to clear out the “gunk” in your mind. Think of it as clearing the leaves out of the gutter. Sure, the leaves will find their way back eventually but until then, the gutter will remain (relatively) clear!
I also enjoy writing want-to-do lists. These lists typically consist of things I want to do or ideas I have that may not fall under the criteria of your typical ‘to-do’ list.
By writing out everything on my mind, I give myself space to release any worry, anxiety or stress I may have built up during the day. It also helps me remain focused, organized and more efficient the following day.
A tried-and-true method for relaxation and long-term mindset shifts. Expressing gratitude can help us improve our relationships with others and ourselves, as well as our mental wellbeing and our ability to forgive. It’s even been suggested that people who practice gratitude on a daily basis sleep better than those who forgo it.
When we take a moment to step back, view how abundant our lives really are – regardless of how much or little we have – and give thanks, we can soothe our minds and our souls.
After all, who wouldn’t be grateful to have a roof over their head and a nice, warm bed to sleep in at night?
Listening to Bedtime Stories
Whilst I’m an avid reader myself, I try not to read books or listen to audiobooks (in bed) that require me to ponder new possibilities or take notes in order to learn new concepts.
If you were lucky enough to experience the joy of being read to at night by a parent, sibling or guardian, you likely have fond memories of bedtime stories. Maybe you recall how vivid your imagination could get or those moments just before drifting off to sleep where your eyes got heavy, your lashes fluttered and your storyteller’s voice slowly faded away. Even though it’s been over two decades, I still remember all of the Czech fairytales my mother read to me at bedtime.
Several years ago, I randomly stumbled upon adult bedtime stories. To be honest, I had no idea they even existed. At the time of discovery, I was browsing through the Calm app. However, payment is required for long-term access to the app so I found a number of YouTube channels that solely focus on creating long or short adult bedtime stories.
Turn one on and I guarantee you that within 15 minutes your mind will be at ease and you’ll wake up feeling lighter, calmer and happier. Heck, you might even call your parents!
Engaging in Deep Breathing Exercises
Engaging in just 5 minutes of deep breathing exercises (breathwork) can help us release pent-up stress and tension. By setting the intention to release and let our thoughts flow through us, we commit to quieting the noise and embracing the silence.
Much like meditation, deep breathing can help relax us and allow our thoughts to flow freely. However, deep breathing (breathwork) is different in that it’s the intentional act of manipulating how one breathes – for a short period of time – in order to promote feelings of serenity and emotional wellbeing. Meditation and breathwork can be practiced simultaneously or separately.
Setting Social Media Limits
Did you know that you can set time limits on your apps? Much of the work I do revolves around creating content for social media so I spend quite a bit of time on the various platforms.
Earlier this year, I decided to set time limits on my personal accounts so that I spend only 2 hours a day on social media. I’ll admit, there are days I go over but I really strive to stay within my limit.
In the 2-3 hours leading up to bedtime, I try to limit my social media usage entirely so that I can truly disconnect and focus on relaxing and quieting my mind. In the digital era, it can be challenging to disconnect and eliminate the constant stream of updates. However, your brain will thank you if you “sign off” before bedtime.
Listening to Nature Sounds or 432 Hz Frequencies
Listening to binaural beats not only helps us to focus on the tasks at hand but can also help us sleep better, gain clarity and express our emotions in a healthier way. There are a number of playlists scattered throughout the Internet that offer hourly or nightly sounds featuring various frequencies.
One of the most popular frequencies for sleeping is 432 Hz as it’s been suggested that this frequency promotes feelings of tranquility, harmony and happiness.
If you aren’t a fan of binaural beats, tuning into soothing nature sounds can be a wonderful alternative. Personally, I love listening to light rain, gentle rivers flowing or the calming sound of ocean waves lapping against the sandy shore. There are a number of playlists featuring nature sounds on YouTube that are created to help you to relax, quiet your mind and sleep better.
Giving Yourself a Pep Talk
Depending on the day, week or year you’ve had, this may be a hard one. However, giving ourselves a good ole’ pep talk can really shift our mindset and force our inner critic to take some much-needed unpaid leave. Remember, we can be our own worst critic but we can also be our own biggest supporter.
By giving ourselves an impromptu pep talk, we have the opportunity to forgive ourselves and realize that we don’t actually have to be so hard on ourselves. We are only human after all. The power of (frequent) pep talks can lead to ground-shattering breakthroughs, a better understanding of self and the cultivation of self-love.
By finding the strength and confidence to tell our inner critic to take a hike, we can finally experience what a quiet(er) mind feels like.
It’s important to remember that you don’t need to perform every one of these practices each night – engaging in just one can help tremendously!
If some are more feasible than others, great! Give those a shot. If you find some to be ineffective, well, perhaps there’s one I haven’t listed here that would work wonders for you.
So, how do you quiet your mind before sleep? Have you tried any of the above practices and have they been effective for you?