How to Turn Off Your Brain at Night | Psych in 60

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How to Turn Off Your Brain at Night

I like to think of racing thoughts in the brain as a toddler that is demanding attention. If you have ever tried to place a phone call around a toddler, you can imagine how hard it is to ignore a toddler that is trying to get your attention.

The way to soothe this immature, tantruming part of your brain is to give it attention first, not when you need it to settle.

A simple way to do this is to spend ten minutes each evening after dinner, but well before bed, and write down any thoughts that are in your head. It doesn’t need to be formal like “dear diary” but rather bullets of all the thoughts that appear. If some of the thoughts are stressors it can also be good to write some possible solutions.

When your brain starts to chatter at you at night, remind it that you have already listened and you will listen again the next night. You can even try to be amused by the thoughts that your brain uses to agitate you. Once your brain trusts that there will be a time when you listen the pressure of the thoughts will back off.

Lastly, try not to be distressed by the awakenings because the distress itself often reinforces them.

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Dr. Kristin Daley
Dr. Kristin Daley received her doctorate in clinical health psychology from UNCC. In addition to her doctoral training, she is one of approximately 200 psychologists who completed their certification in behavioral sleep medicine. She is passionate about assisting people in moving into healthy places in life, and spends her free time with her husband and three children.

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