Over the past few years there has been an increasing number of people who are experiencing sleep challenges. Falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up too early – the challenges are abundant. The state of the world and what we as a collective have gone through since 2020 doesn’t make it surprising that so many of us are experiencing sleep issues.
A common challenge that many people face when they are experiencing troubles falling asleep is having racing thoughts and even anxiety before bed. Once the hustle and bustle of the day is over and we are finally alone in silence with our thoughts, our brain may ramp up and start stressing about current events, the wellbeing of our families, our to-do lists and work demands, and all of the unknowns in our lives. It’s no wonder that in this moment anxiety and racing thoughts can strike.
If you are experiencing racing thoughts or anxiety as you lay down to sleep, it could be extremely beneficial to create an evening routine to calm anxiety before bed. Creating an evening routine that can help slow down your thoughts, slow down your brainwaves and turn on the part of your nervous system that helps you feel safe and secure can be the perfect remedy for falling asleep at a reasonable time.
When it comes to creating an evening routine, there are many different components that need to come together to make a consistent and long lasting difference. From what you eat before bed, to what you watch (or don’t watch), how your bedroom environment is and more – the various actions you take before bed will snowball to either support deep restful sleep, or negatively impact it.
For this specific article, I am going to be focusing on one element of creating an evening routine to calm anxiety before bed. This element is strictly for your emotional and mental wellbeing and to slow down your thoughts and brain waves so that you can feel calm and drowsy as you hit the hay.
Utilizing self-hypnosis in your evening routine to calm anxiety before bed
What is self-hypnosis?
There are a lot of myths around what hypnosis is. I teach self-hypnosis to my clients in addition to HypnoBirthing Childbirth Classes and I get asked if hypnosis is just putting someone in a “trance” and making them do silly things. This is a huge myth and I am going to bust it right here!
Hypnosis is a natural state you experience every day, without consciously being aware of it. It is when you reach a state of deep relaxation where you become suggestible to information that you are consuming. This happens naturally when you watch a movie and it creates an emotional response. Example: when you are watching a scary movie and you get so consumed in it, and it creates a response of fear or anticipation. You *know* the movie is fake, yet you are still deeply focused and responding to the content. That is an example of hypnosis. Another example of hypnosis is when you are zoning out while you are driving your car, listening to your favorite music, and you miss an exit on the highway.
Hypnosis is also a strategic meditative practice. If you listen to guided meditations, you are essentially practicing self-hypnosis. The only difference between hypnosis and meditation is that hypnosis utilizes someone’s voice to guide you, and meditation is when you are intentionally directing your focus to a focal point such as your breath, a body part, or a mantra you say in your mind. Any guided meditation you listen to is essentially hypnosis, because someone’s voice is guiding you to become relaxed.
So in a nutshell: meditation focuses your attention on your heart beat, sensing the space around your body, focusing on your breath, or focusing on nothing at all. Hypnosis is the process of you being guided into a deeply relaxed state by someone’s voice. Guided meditations are really hypnosis. Hypnosis is simply a strategic form of meditation, a partner of meditation. It is not a strange experiencing where you are not in control of yourself.
A self-hypnosis ritual to add to your evening routine to calm anxiety before bed
This quick self-hypnosis meditation combines the power of practicing meditation and self hypnosis into one. When you practice this before bed, and you do this consistently, you can start quieting your thoughts and calming anxious feelings that may pop up as you are trying to fall asleep. All you need to do is practice this for a few minutes as you lie down in bed to start breaking the pattern of what you think about before you fall asleep.
- While in bed, get into a comfortable position. You do not have to sit up in a meditative pose, you can simply lie down and get as comfortable as you can under the covers. Make sure your body is supported with pillows.
- When you are ready, you can close your eyes, release any tension in your forehead and eyebrows, release any tension in your jaw and mouth, and take slow deep inhales and exhales. Breathing in to a count of four, pausing at the top, and exhaling for as long as you can. Slow, extended exhales. Repeat this slow deep breathing pattern between five to seven times.
- After your last round of deep breaths, direct your attention to the space around your heart. Holding your attention to the center of your chest. Keeping your awareness in this space of your body for a few minutes. If your mind starts to wander, simply redirect it back to this space of your body.
- After a few minutes of this, think of something positive that happened to you today. It doesn’t matter how big or small it was. It could be a new habit you created, that you spent time with your family, eating well, achieving a work project, someone new in your life. Anything that you can feel appreciative and grateful for.
- As you think of this, keep your awareness in the center of your chest and start to amplify the feeling of appreciation and gratitude of this thought in your mind. Really connect with this emotion, if your mind starts to wander, simply redirect it back to what you are appreciative for that day and connect it with an emotion of gratitude and love.
- Hold this emotion and feel it in your heart for a few more minutes. When you are ready, you can simply start to direct your attention to the center of your chest. Sensing the space around your chest, maybe the rise and fall of your breath. Hold it for as long as you can – 2 minutes, 5 minutes. And when you are ready, you can open your eyes or if you feel relaxed, start to drift off to sleep.
How this evening routine ritual combines meditation and self-hypnosis.
This simple ritual starts with the meditative practice of extending your exhales, calming your nervous system and sensing a space of your body. When you focus on your breath and sense a part of your body, this starts to slow down your brainwaves. When your brainwaves start to slow down, the part of your brain that analyzes and judges and “races” starts to calm down. When this area of your brain starts to become calm and quiet, your subconscious brain becomes more aware and receptive to your thoughts.
Once you are feeling calm and you intentionally think of something or someone who brings you joy, gratitude or appreciation, and you combine it with an emotion of love, gratitude and inspiration, your subconscious mind is more receptive to these feelings and thoughts. When this is practiced over time, it starts to condition your mind so that you feel the emotions of love and gratitude more so than stress and worry.
How to turn this meditation into a habit
Incorporating this consistently helps lock in new neural pathways in your brain that help support a positive and calm mindset. Your body will start to automatically become more easily relaxed and joyful before bed because you are creating a new automatic habit. The more you practice this, the more your body and mind will start to default to a new positive calming mindset before bed instead of defaulting to anxiety or racing thoughts.
Our mind is quite vulnerable before we go to bed. So when we create a new evening routine that helps us work intentionally to shift our emotions to something positive, it helps us slowly condition our mind to feel happy and calm before bed instead of stressed out.
Doing this practice consistently helps you literally rewire your brain. Try this tonight, and practice it every night before bed. The more you practice this, the easier it is for your body to automatically become more relaxed before bed.