Right now, it feels like we have an awful lot to worry about – adding a lack of sleep to that list is the last thing we want to happen. It is often when we get into bed that we really have time to stop and think about these worries – often overthinking until they overwhelm us!
Try out these strategies to help you stop overthinking while you’re trying to sleep and hopefully you’ll be drifting off peacefully in no time…
Repeat a word
We’ve all heard about counting sheep to help us get to sleep, well there is actually some psychological evidence that this trick, and others similar, can work to stopping your overthinking!
This is called articulatory suppression, to give it a go you need to mouth a word at a rate that makes thinking of any other thought difficult – usually mouthing the word 3 -4 times a second. The theory is that mouthing a word requires a lot more mental power than just thinking it and the use of that mental power causes a blocking of the original intrusive thought.
You can extend this technique by visualising a shape as you mouth each word; such as a sheep!
“Imagery distraction” is a technique in which you imagine yourself in an engaging and interesting scenario like:
- a relaxing holiday,
- cooking a meal or
- a nice, sunny afternoon in the garden.
Once chosen, the aim is to experience the scenario as deeply as possible by imagining all the sights, sounds, smells and ultimately relaxation that comes with it, so that it becomes impossible to think of anything else.
It’s important to find a calm and relaxing scenario to imagine, visualising something exciting is far less likely to help you sleep.
We know that fixating on negative thoughts has a negative impact on sleep, so it follows that the opposite is also true! Trying thinking about the things in life that you are thankful for and make you feel positive. This will help calm your mind and therefore get a better nights sleep.