EEven though you may not be able to turn off what’s floating around in your mind and keeping you up at night, don’t think for a second that your psychological state doesn’t affect your physical health. Because it does. Your mind can affect your body and vice versa. That’s why Dr. Marc Ronert, founder of Hush & Hush, says that it’s important to train yourself to shut down at the end of the day. “Sleep is both natural and essential, and it contributes to your mental well-being and physical health. There really is no substitute for sleep, so taking steps to ensure a peaceful rest is a healthy living choice you need to make,” he says.
In a world that seems to grow more stressful by the day, it becomes even more important, but more challenging, to understand and employ techniques that help us to calm down, manage what we may perceive as stress and mental clutter (read: when the mind has too many thoughts that make it difficult to process, in turn cluttering the mind) and help us to cope with certain situations. Lying awake at night and letting your mind run wild with thoughts of everything that needs to be done is actually perceived as stress, and stress can easily hinder sleep. But in order to conquer an overactive mind and mental clutter, inner peace needs to be achieved, which Dr. Ronert says allows you to better cope with stressful situations, like not being able to sleep at night.
A lack of quality sleep has a trickle-down effect on the whole body—it can take a toll on your mind, body, and soul. Sufficient restful sleep also provides an opportunity for your brain to repair and reconstruct neural networks, which, in turn, helps to boost mental well-being and overall health.
The Need for Sleep
Sleep is both innate and indispensable. Yet, more than one-third of adults have sleep problems, which can result in feeling grumpy, foggy, unable to be productive at work and in life, a tired look, plus at a higher risk for medical conditions and diseases.
Adults should spend about one-third of their lives sleeping. But when a racing mind constantly interferes, getting a decent amount of quality shut-eye becomes next to nearly impossible. Truth be told, those hours of slumber are not wasteful because sleep is when essential maintenance takes place. It’s also when our brains create new cells and build new neural connections and when our bodies release growth hormones to build and repair muscles and other tissues. While we sleep, the body’s immune system also gets a chance to play catch up.
Most of us need to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep per night otherwise our bodies are not able to properly reset and rejuvenate, not to mention you’ll feel groggy and possibly lethargic come morning. Furthermore, a lack of sleep, regardless of the cause, can directly lead to serious medical conditions like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
So, what can those that deal with a restless mind and become sleep-deprived do? Dr. Ronert says that there is a multitude of different tactics to follow to help shut down mental clutter. Here, his top recommendations.
The Options to Calm Your Mind
Try a mind-calming nutraceutical like Hush & Hush MindYourMind ($55), which helps to relax and destress the mind and body. “It doesn’t contain melatonin, which can leave you feeling tired the next morning, but rather time-tested botanicals that help you to wind down at the end of the day. When the body is relaxed, it’s in a calm state that is more receptive to falling asleep and staying asleep.”
Move your body and exercise. According to Dr. Ronert, exerting yourself allows you to sleep well. “Body movements demand more oxygen, and that oxygen reaches all parts of your body, including your brain. Your body uses more energy, and that causes sleepiness.” Exercise also reduces stress and anxiety, which encourages restful sleep. But, make sure to avoid exercising within one hour of bedtime which can raise your heart rate and make it harder to ease into a healthy sleep cycle.
Follow the same calming bedtime routine every night regardless of where you are and what night of the week it is. Your body works well on a daily routine and once you find a nighttime one that works for you, you need to stick with it.
“Don’t watch TV just before bed, become absorbed in stressful activities at night—you’ll still be thinking about them while your eyes are closed— or peruse the Internet or social media on your phone because the light (blue light) emitted can interfere with sleep patterns,” Dr. Ronert says. “I always recommend winding down one hour before you go to bed. Stop working, shut down the computer, turn off the TV, and put down your phone.”
Learn to calm your mind and train yourself not to think so much before going to bed. “Too much thinking can be a problem. Even without high levels of stress, some people lie awake thinking about everything and anything,” says Dr. Ronert. “One approach is to use meditation or relaxation techniques to remove focus from these thoughts and encourage sleep,” he says.