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on psychiatry and psychology

Insomnia

Abstract: How to stop worries and racing thoughts before falling asleep?

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Insomnia

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Question(s): 
Written by: Dr. Martin Winkler
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 28 Aug 2008.

How could I stop my worries and racing thoughts that keep me awake?
What is the role of negative thoughts and worries in insomnia?

I cannot fall asleep because I have to think about all the problems of the past day and ongoing tasks of tomorrow. My thoughts are racing and I cannot relax. Is there any way to avoid it?

Answer:

Worries and racing thoughts are rather common among patients with sleeping problems (e.g. insomnia).

Please notice : Please make sure that no other medical condition (e.g. urogenital problems, heart disease, sleep apnea, chronic pain or other medical conditions) or an other psychiatric condition (e.g. depression, chronic anxiety due to post traumatic stress disorder) is the actual reason for your insomnia

There is no general approach that works for all patients. However, some people can get relieve using one or more or the following methods.

  • Do not work until late hours

    If you are still involved in work or unpleasant activities (finances, unpleasent correspondence) you will not be able to relax. So reserve a time of at least 2 to 3 hours to find rest and reserve this time for pleasant activities

  • Do not read bad news or watch the news before bedtime

    Sadly enough, most news are bad news. If you are prone to worries you should not get involved in these bad news before you try to go to sleep. Try to read a pleasant book (no horror stories) and listen to some nice music. Try to relax with any method you like (having a walk, a glass of milc, sex).

  • Write a journal or diary

    It may be useful to reserve a time for your worries and concerns at daytime. So you should try to develop a routine and reserved time for all the concerns and problems of the day. By writing your worries you can identify common negative thoughts and worries. It is much easier to find solutions if you know the exact content and meaning of your worries.

    Take your time for these worries but not at the late evening. The best time might be late afternoon. Sit down with a diary and write down your concerns of the day. This will take at least 30 to 60 minutes. Force yourself to think about all the worries and problems of the past and coming day.

  • Think about a present event of the day

    After all the time for the worries you should stop the diary with at least one pleasant event of the day. Any nice story, any pleasant event of the day? Any "sunshine" in your life?

  • learn effective methods of guided immagination or self-hypnosis
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