Causes of Trouble Sleeping
There are many reasons we stay awake at night instead of falling asleep. Sometimes the cause is something physical, like too much caffeine too late in the day or too much screen time before bed. But all too much of the time, trouble sleeping is caused by mental stress, anxiety, and unwanted thoughts.
So it makes sense that the solution to getting enough sleep is to fight those anxious thoughts. How do we fight them? By replacing them with calming thoughts.
No two people experience the same set of worries. But there are many repeating themes when it comes to thoughts that keep people up past bedtime.
Some worries you may be experience at night:
- Anxious about the next day
- Replaying something unpleasant that happened during the day in our minds
- Thinking about a fight with a loved one
- Fretting over your to-do list for the week
Unwanted thoughts are frustrating to have when we should be counting sheep instead.
Whatever the reason, if you can't stop your thoughts, it makes sense to at least think about positive things to try to forget your worries.
Optimistic People Sleep Better
A 2018 study found that people who are more optimistic tend to sleep longer and better. They have other positive health outcomes too.
So how can we pause our worries and channel the good sleeping habits of an optimistic person when going to bed?
Preparing To Substitute Positive Thoughts for Worries
To journal, or not to journal
The first thing to decide is whether you're the journaling type. For some, journaling is an excellent way to focus your brain and get ideas down. For others, it's an exercise that's both boring and frustrating.
No worries—if you already like to journal, you may want to employ the use of a journal to help you relax. If you know you are for sure not a journaler, it's okay to just imagine your thoughts or even speak them out loud to yourself.
Ways to think positive thoughts:
- Record them in a journal
- Say them out loud to yourself
- Think them quietly in your head
If it's been a while since you tried journaling, you may want to give it another go. Journaling has proven benefits when it comes to helping us process our thoughts and cope with bad thoughts.
Turn off that TV show
After you decide whether you will write down your thoughts, think them quietly, or say them out loud to yourself, you're going to want a relaxing environment. This will most likely be your bedroom. Turn off the TV, put away your phone for the night, lie back on a silk pillow, and center yourself for a moment.
What does "getting centered" mean?
If you've ever tried meditation or yoga, you may have been asked to "center yourself". But what does it mean?
Centering means coming to a balanced emotional state. It could also mean finding a place within yourself that you can refer back to when you are pushed off balance. This might be focusing on the rise and fall of your natural breath or thinking of a happy memory.
Here are a few ways to center yourself before you fill your mind with positive sleepy thoughts:
- Practice deep breathing exercises
- Listen to calming music
- Visualize yourself in a peaceful place
- Think of your favorite childhood memory
- Imagine your pet's face
10 Positive Thoughts Before Bed for Better Sleep
If you're feeling more centered than you were before you began your centering exercise, then it's time to start thinking happy thoughts. Remember, these can be written in a journal, thought to yourself, or spoken aloud.
10 positive things to think about before sleep
- I am grateful for...
- Something that made me laugh today...
- What went well today...
- I am looking forward to...
- I will achieve my goal because...
- I am proud of myself for...
- One thing I like about myself is...
- I am happy because...
- I feel supported by my friends/family because...
- One thing that gives me hope for the future is...
Thinking about any one of these things—or several—before bed will help to ease your mind and fill your head with sleepy thoughts. This should help alleviate insomnia and lead to a good night's sleep.
What you do tonight helps tomorrow
If you do this every night, it will eventually become a habit and part of your nightly routine. It may seem difficult at first to think of good thoughts. But this is just a sign that you need to continue trying it. It will seem easier some nights and more difficult on others.
Positive thinking can lead to better sleep, which affects our energy and mood the next day.
What To Do if Negative Thoughts Creep Back In
If you find yourself starting to worry or having anxious thoughts, don't try to push them to the back of your mind. Simply acknowledge your unwanted thoughts, then return to your positive thoughts.
If you keep getting blown off course with your positive thought practice, you may want to return to your centering exercise and then try again.
Other Tips To Help You Fall Asleep
All of the positive sleepy thoughts in the world aren't going to help you get rest if your sleep environment is not ideal.
3 things you can do to boost your sleep environment
1. Switch out your pillowcase for a Blissy Silk Pillowcase
Silk is the ideal fabric if you're trying to get some good shut-eye. That's because it's luxurious and extra relaxing. Plus it helps regulate your body temperature so that you always feel the ideal temperature at night.
2. Block out ambient light with a comfy Silk Sleep Mask
A sleep mask can help you get better quality sleep and help prevent you from feeling tired in the morning. Our eyelids are thin, so even when we have our eyes closed, our brain can still sense light coming from the TV, streetlamps outside, digital displays, etc. So signal to your brain that it's actually night by blocking out light with a sleep mask.
3. Block out noise with earplugs or a noise machine
Just as our brains still think it's daytime when our eyes sense light, when we hear noises, our brains think it's time to wake up. Using earplugs or investing in a noise machine can help you get the sleep of your dreams.
Waking life is better when your mind is eased and your dreams are calm. Make a practice of thinking positive thoughts each night when you lie down on your Blissy Pillowcase.
- Hernandez, R., Vu, T., & Kershaw, K. (2018, February 19). The Association of Optimism with Sleep Duration and Quality: Findings from the Coronary Artery Risk and Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study. Taylor & Francis. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08964289.2019.1575179?journalCode=vbmd20
- Journaling for Mental Health - Health Encyclopedia - University of Rochester Medical Center. (2022). University of Rochester Medical Center. Retrieved May 19, 2022, from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentID=4552&ContentTypeID=1#:%7E:text=Journaling%20helps%20control%20your%20symptoms,and%20identifying%20negative%20thoughts%20and
- Raab, PhD, D. (2017, May 23). Are You Grounded? Centered? Or Both? Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-empowerment-diary/201705/are-you-grounded-centered-or-both