Bedtime is supposed to be the time to give yourself a break from all the stresses of the day.

It is the time to finally let your body rest without hesitation, let it recover, and refuel the lost energy.

But for most of us, it is also the time to ruminate about negative experiences, especially those that happened within the day.

The time to think about the things we said and did. 

Did they make sense?

Was I able to raise my point?

Did I look stupid in front of those people? 

Some of us even lose hours going over negative thoughts, thinking about all thewhat-ifs and only-ifs, including those events that happened many, many years ago.

Negative thinking, especially during bedtime, is one of the major factors affecting a person’s risk of insomnia and even mood disorders like depression.

Not only does it make falling asleep difficult, but getting preoccupied with negative thoughts does affect the quality of our sleep, so we wake up feeling restless the next day, as if we didn’t get enough sleep.

If you’re always struggling about negative thoughts before bedtime – and no matter how you try to push them away, they keep bugging you, you can greatly benefit from the following tips and advices.

Go to bed earlier.

Do you notice it that when you stay awake past your usual bedtime schedule, you become grumpy and irritable?

In a study by Binghamton University, it was found that people who preferred to go to sleep late (evening types) had higher levels of negative thoughts compared to early sleepers (morning types).

The same was true for people who slept for shorter periods of time overall.

If you’re used to sleeping late, like 11 pm onwards, try adjusting your bedtime schedule by 15 to 30-minute increments until your desired schedule that allows you to get enough slumber of at least 7-8 hours.

Practice breathing techniques.

Deep breathing is a scientifically proven way to ward off stress and shut negative thoughts.

It allows you to focus on your body, rather than on the worries and all the bad thoughts.

Also, deep breathing induces the flow of blood throughout your body, which leads to calmness and relaxation.

Turn on the music.

Remember how lullabies make you sleep faster when you were little?

Music has the ability to relax our mind and body, and shift our attention from negative thoughts and emotions.

And its sleep-promoting abilities are backed by scientific research too.

In 2013, a study review by University of Chinese People’s Armed Police Forces in China, found that music therapy helped people with sleep disorders when used consistently.

But of course, the type of music you play has a huge impact.

Try a calming music with no lyrics, such as new age instrumentals, nature-inspired music or classical music.

Nonetheless, it is still important to experiment and find out what specific types of music works best for you.

Try Guided Relaxation or Visualisation

There are different types of guided relaxation, and they often work best with the help of a trained therapist.

There’s progressive relaxation which involves tensing and relaxing different groups of muscle in sequence.

There’s also the traditional guided relaxation which involves focusing on your breathing and relaxing your whole body.

You can use visualisation too, wherein you think about a relaxing place or situation.

Ask your therapist what specific techniques you can try at home to alleviate negative thoughts and ruminations especially before bedtime.

Ditch the Facebook night-time habit.

If you make Facebook a bedtime ritual, chances are, you can get into bad mood once you saw a post that you don’t want to see.

Looking at other people’s photos and statuses about how happy they are, what places they’ve been, how great their salaries are, etc., often fuels comparison, which greatly boosts negative thinking.

Another thing, using your mobile phone or computer, even watching TV before bedtime has been found to affect sleep quality by interfering with the body’s circadian rhythm.

And that’s due to the blue light these electronics emit.

If you have a helpful negative-thinking tip or strategy that works for you? Please share in the comment section below.

Happy dreaming

Richard Scott
Clinical hypnotherapist

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