How Mindfulness Can Help You Sleep by Polina Blinderman, LCSW


Is anxiety getting in the way of falling asleep at night?

Do you notice yourself struggling to sleep because of excessive thinking, worrying, or obsessive thoughts? Often times, before we go to bed, our mind may wander to thinking (or worrying) about work, family, health, financial problems, or relationships. Sometimes, just worrying about sleep itself could be the main reason you don't fall asleep easily. Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment, with intention, and without judgment Try this mindfulness activity of categorizing your racing or ruminating thoughts the next time you are having trouble sleeping:

Close your eyes, set a timer for 3 -5 minutes, and start to pay attention to the thoughts coming into your mind. 

❖ Are they future-oriented thoughts? (i.e., automatic list making, "I need to respond to that email, or schedule that appointment, etc.) Often these future-oriented thoughts may increase your anxiety. 

❖ Or, are you noticing that your thoughts are about the past? (i.e., regrets about something that has happened today, or years ago). Past-oriented thoughts tend to evoke sadness in us. 

❖ And finally, are you noticing thoughts that are about the present moment? (i.e., hearing sounds in your room, noticing smells, or physiological sensations). Noticing thoughts about the present moment can induce some feelings that are comfortable or uncomfortable. It is helpful to be aware of whatever comes up so that we create the freedom and space to know how to help ourselves. 

❖ Another way to utilize this mindfulness activity is to tap your left leg when you notice a thought from the past. Tap your right leg when you notice a thought from the future. And tap both legs when you notice a thought from the present. The tapping may also help you ground in the moment. 

❖ Finally, once the timer has gone off, notice how you are feeling. Pay attention to any changes in your anxiety. 

Practicing this activity may help focus your mind and decrease stress by reducing negative thoughts about the past and needless worries about the future. Combine this with your favorite meditation relaxation app, and you can get the Zzzzzs you've been looking for.

Contact the Adne Institute today to schedule an appointment for more help with anxiety or mindfulness.