Processing Mental ‘Junk’ Before Bed
If we have a lot on our mind, we will have to process it before we can go into a deep sleep. The mental activity on our mind can come from interactions we had during the day, tasks we completed or (gulp) didn’t complete, things we read, television we watched, and stimulation from our phones. Depending on how much processing we have to do, we may not even get to sleep or into that deep level of sleep. It’s common to stay awake, thinking about all the things that didn’t find completion by the end of the day.
Therefore, clearing your head can be a powerful habit at the end of the day. Some methods for clearing excessive mental activity can be light reading, journaling, or a particular method of journaling called a “brain dump” or “mental dump.” This method, for example, can occur when we are ready to go to sleep and we’re still thinking about a project we’ve been working. We can write down everything on our mind about that project (or interaction, fear, goal, hope, dream, problem), so the information is on the paper and it’s not running in the brain anymore. We can sleep easier knowing the information has been captured, at least for the day. When it comes to work related topics, I recommend the mental dump method, gratitude journaling, success journaling, and daily review before leaving the office so we don’t take that information home with us.
You could play chess or Tetris on your phone, do some meditation, or watch a light and funny TV show to help put you to sleep. Another professional I know goes on a twenty minute walk every evening at 9:30 pm to clear his head. No matter what we choose, a routine can signal to our body and mind that it is time to wind down and prepare for sleep.
Photo: From Michael Winn’s China Dream Trip. Michael offers China Dream Trips regularly, as well as Taoist retreats in the summer in Asheville North Carolina. Learn more at: HealingTaoUsa.com