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

Last updated – November 27, 2017

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

Reference – Why You Should Go To Bed The Same Time As Tom Brady

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!


If nothing else works, revisit your mattress choice


if you have the sleep-wake cycle down, you’re not battling insomnia and not going through an especially rough patch in your life but you still have problems sleeping, it’s likely that we are zeroing in on the source of the problem – your mattress.


There’s a lot of hype these days about the mattress-in-a-box trend, if you’re asking us, choosing a mattress that works for your body type has never been more complicated. Whichever way you look at it there’s simply no way that the same surface will be good for both skinny and overweight people.

The latter is a good example – depending on how overweight you are, you’ll need more support. It’s typical example of not seeing the forest from the trees – we’re looking for the source for sleep problems in the intricacies of our daily habits and nightly rituals when we simply might be sleeping on the wrong mattress for our body type. If you’re skinny or averagely built, you might be okay with and all-foam mattress.

On the other hand, a heavy person will probably need the support only steel springs can offer. If that’s your scenario, you might find this resource page on choosing the best mattress for heavy people on useful.

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!

See Also – Healthy Sleeping Positions

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


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