Sleepyhead: 6 Ways to Master the Mind Games on the Pillow

Sleepyhead: 6 Ways to Master the Mind Games on the Pillow


If you are anything like me, a good night’s rest is few and far between. Yawn…

I can relate to a yawn this size. Can you?

So many of us are feeling sleep-deprived that the National Sleep Foundation declared this week National Sleep Awareness Week so you can get your snooze back on.

My sleep ritual often involves my head on the pillow being physically exhausted, but mentally it is like I am just waking up to start my day. I settle into bed, look at the clock and see that it is 10:00, close my eyes prepared to get some sleep and my mind instantly begins to tumble with thoughts and to-dos (or most annoyingly, I get a song stuck in my head). Time check again: it is midnight. A battle with the blankets accompanied by tossing and turning begins as I worry about how I need to be sleeping if I want to make it through the workday without a jug of coffee which means my mind is thinking on overdrive about getting some shut eye. Sound familiar? Where is the turn off my brain button when I need it most?!

We all know that restful sleep is essential to a healthy lifestyle. I mean, how will we be able to properly prepare for an upcoming race without our Z’s to have us refreshed and energized at the start line? To quickly shut off your mind and drift into counting sheep (or for us health nuts…counting our reps!) use these powerful methods to get your circadian rhythm on the right track.

  • Set a Strict Sleep Schedule: Just as your belly grumbles come your set lunch time, you can train your mind and body to rest at a particular time every day. At first you may struggle to fall asleep, but in time your body will become accustomed to your sleep habits and your awake hours. You’ll be sleeping in sync with your internal clock in no time.
  • Prepare your Mind for Rest: Along with your sleep schedule, create a bedtime ritual that will prepare you for a night of dreams about an hour before you peel the sheets back. Seek serenity by dimming the lights, taking a hot bath, listening to soft music, trying meditation, lighting candles, slipping into your jammies…whatever it takes to get you into the sleep zone before your head hits the pillow.
  • Create a Sleep-tastic Environment: Maybe it is the pitter-patter of your cat or the nightlight in the bathroom that is preventing you from reaching dreamland. Instead of keeping your brain up by focusing on lights and sounds try decreasing room stimulation. Invest in an eye mask or dark curtains if you are light sensitive. For those that stir from sounds, try earplugs or cover your head with a pillow. I really dislike when it is too quiet so I sleep with a fan on every night (even in the winter!) for white noise and now the sound is soothing. It also sucks away any mischief your kitty is up to!
  • Say Nighty-Night to The Bachelor: I am a show addict so it is hard for me to turn off a Bravo marathon when I know I will just be thinking in the dark, but keeping the TV on is simply postponing the amount of shut eye I can get. The same goes for readers, texters and computer lovers. These activities stimulate your brain rather than relaxing you. The bedroom is for sleep. End of subject.
  • Conquer the Insomnia Game: After 15 minutes of trying to fall asleep, the answer is not to keep at it. Instead, get out of bed to get your mind off of the worried list building that is playing on repeat and try to reset your busy thoughts. To do so, try deep breathing or ignite your inner yogi with a sequence that will calm your mind and relax you into a peaceful slumber.  If this doesn’t work try a mug of warm milk!
  • Worry Earlier in the Day: Don’t wait until you turn off the lights to think about your concerns. You want to have separation from your thoughts and your bedtime. During your daytime worry session ask yourself what normally comes to mind when you are lying in bed and write the stresses down. Sometimes the act of putting thoughts on paper is enough to kick them to the curb. If you find your thoughts flooding your mind right before bed you can mentally put the check mark next to it or say allowed that you have dealt with it. Doing so will give your mind a sense of relief so you can get back to the task at hand…sleep!

Daylight savings time is just around the corner so this is a great time to rethink and reset your sleeping habits. Once you surrender to your sleep you will be left with nothing but sweet dreams!

Do you have difficulty getting your shut eye? What sleep tricks do you have? 

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  1. It’s unreal how you and Jana think alike!

    I’m with you on the eyemask and earplugs, but I’m trying to get the man on board to kick the dogs out as they do disturb our sleep (click clak of their toenails and scritch scratch of their feet!). We just love to cuddle them but perhaps it’s best we do a little cuddle then tuck them in their beds!
    Sabrina at MyMiBoSo recently posted..Mind: Silence Please – Inside Look at the Silent Meditation Retreat, Part 2My Profile

    • I know! I commented to her that great minds think alike! I really do recommend trying a fan to suck away house noise and pet clatter…and it is so soothing. I have a VERY hard time falling asleep without it!

  2. Ok you’re totally going to laugh — my sleep ritual has turned into an issue! I just noticed last night so its perfect that I’m reading this now 😉

    Basically this is how it went down — books would lull me into a mushy ball-o-sleep like clockwork. Until I found a few really GOOD super gripping books that I have been staying up until 4am to finsih! Needless to say i’m a little cranky today 😉

    The earplugs are my life saver to block out pets and neighbors and I invested in black out shades behind super thick curtains so I’m in my own personal cave — its GLORIOUS!!!! Now all I need to do is find a few boring books to read slowly before bed 😉 haha
    Jenn L @ Peas and Crayons recently posted..[Taste Test!] Alexia Sweet Potato Fries + PuffsMy Profile

    • I have a cave too! I don’t know how people sleep without curtains. So weird! I totally get you on the good book thing! Plus, my iPad totally messed me up because it is so bright it is like it is day. I recommend reading outside of the bedroom and crawling into bed when your eyes start getting heavy or just giving yourself a time limit. And no Hunger Games because you will never stop :)

  3. The Hunger Games might just be worth staying up for and being a little cranky the next day. A good book is as glorious as a good sleep…I am just not sure which is better.

  4. Good stuff all in all. I don’t think I’ve ever in my life been able to fall asleep within 15 minutes of my head hitting the pillow. I don’t think that applies to everybody.

    Here’s my question though, how can you set a strict sleep schedule, but then also say that if you don’t fall asleep within 15 minutes, you shouldn’t keep trying? Doesn’t that mean you won’t be following your sleep schedule?

    • Hi Anuj! Thanks for commenting. I know that I am not the head on the pillow and out type either. However, it definitely takes some practice to get your body used to becoming that way which means that there will be some nights your new schedule works out perfectly and other nights when it just isn’t happening. It all takes time…but hopefully that will inevitably mean more sleep. :)

    • Tracy, this is so true and something I need to remember for myself since I do have sleeping issues. Now…if only that early alarm wasn’t such a bummer!

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