There is nothing like a good night's sleep for both your mind and body. But, if you are anything like us, you probably have found that the hectic world and the laundry list of everyday responsibilities sometimes get in the way of that.
Almost everyone has had the experience of feeling exhausted and laying down to go to sleep only to have your mind decide in that very moment to begin ticking off that what if list, or the to-do list, for the future decade.
An overactive mind, especially when you’re trying to get sleep, can be frustrating and eventually impact your health – both physically and mentally! But there are techniques that you can use to help calm that overactive mind.
If you struggle with this problem and are looking for things you can do to combat it, we will be helping you with that in this quick article.
What Causes an Overactive Mind?
Before we talk about how to combat your overactive mind, we think it is vital to understand what might be causing it in the first place.
Understanding this may let you eliminate some of the causes and help you begin to work on calming your overactive mind.
Here are some of the potential causes:
- Social Overstimulation – There can be a lot of demands put on your downtime. When you have a full schedule all the time, you may find that you can't get all the sleep you need because you are always on the go. This social overstimulation can actually affect your body, just like jet lag. In turn, this will affect your circadian rhythm and will leave your body exhausted while your mind remains overactive.
- Hereditary – You may have your parents to thank for the fact that you suffer from insomnia, which is often part of the reason for your overactive mind. These genetic markers have an effect on your metabolism and signal transmission to your brain.
- Stress – Stress can riddle your body with the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is the hormone that helps you wake up in the morning and is also the one that is released as a flight or fight reaction to dangerous situations. So high levels of stress will assist in creating your overactive mind.
- Health Issues – There are medical conditions that might be causing some issues with your sleep. Things like heart failure, arthritis, and overactive thyroid (and much more) can have an impact on your ability to sleep well.
- Drugs & Alcohol – Substances that alter your state can actually have negative ramifications on your sleep cycle. Even drugs that are intended to relax you can actually have a horrible consequence on your REM sleep; this can also include prescription drugs given to you by your doctors to treat health issues.
- Aging – As you get older, you begin to develop chronic conditions that can affect your sleep patterns and sleep quality.
Consequences of an Overactive Mind
So, why is an overactive mind bad?
After all, though it can be annoying, sometimes it heralds enlightened ideas or enables you to work through problems that you struggled with or think you will struggle with in the near future (if you can remember what you were thinking about). But your body needs sleep to regenerate and reset your body’s systems. If you don’t get good sleep because of your overactive mind, you can end up seeing several consequences throughout the day.
Here are some of the most common ones:
Lack of Focus
An overactive mind at night can and will affect your sleep, which then, in turn, can cause your brain to never shut down. This situation can lead to you struggling with focus throughout the next day.
Once again, not allowing your brain to shut down for the evening will affect your mental health. This is because hormones that are meant to decrease throughout your sleep cycle are kept at a heightened level, and this sends your mind into overload, which can lead to anxiety.
An overactive mind will, of course, lead to insomnia. After all, your mind is not shutting down and letting you get to sleep, and that is exactly what insomnia is.
When you use your computer too much, eventually you will notice that it begins to run slow and common functions begin to take longer. This process is very similar to your brain. So when your brain is not allowed to replenish its energy by sleep, you will notice that cognitive functions like memory or information retention are impacted.
You may find your mental moods highly affected by an overactive mind at night and the poor sleep it brings with it. You may find yourself a little down because your brain is constantly pumping all the wrong hormones into your body for extended periods of time. By doing this, depression could find its way into your daily life.
Tips for Calming an Overactive Mind
Now you know what may be causing your overactive mind and the consequences of having an overactive mind at night, let's talk about how you can calm that overactive mind.
Deep Belly Breathing
Calming your mind sometimes is as simple as doing breathwork. In particular, a method called “piko-piko” breathing. This breathing method is a deep breath work intended to help calm your mind so that your brain will reduce those stress hormones, and it also helps get more oxygen to your cells. Basically, by breathing from your core and exhaling that breath, you move the tension from one place to another and eventually from your body.
Meditation has a similar effect as the deep breath work we mentioned above. There are many types of meditation, but no matter which you use, the core results are the same. By calming your mind and focusing on the present, you tend to leave stress and anxiety behind you. Or at least you form a routine that can help you deal with it more healthily. This removes the things that trigger your overactive mind from your brain and allows you to live with a quiet mind.
Getting out into nature has an amazing effect on your overall health. Not only are you moving your body, but you are healing your mind too. Typically in nature, you are exposed to cleaner and more oxygen which helps your circulation. This allows for your brain to calm itself, kind of like a walking meditation. So getting out and taking a walk in a park or a forest or even by the beach can help you destress, and that could mean less of an overactive mind later in the day.
Sometimes your mind is put on overdrive because you just have so much on it. So, to quiet your mind, getting it all out might help you out a lot. This is why so many people tout the benefits of journaling. So if you like to write, then journaling could be a good technique to add to your day so that you can combat that overactive mind of yours.
There are so many great herbs that have a calming and relaxing effect on your body and mind. You can look at herbs like lavender, chamomile, and ashwagandha to help you calm your overactive mind. These herbs can be used in a diffuser, in tea, or even in a hot bath before bed.
There are times in life where an overactive mind can be helpful (in limited time periods), but it can also be detrimental when it happens in the evening as you are trying to shut down for the day. But if you understand the causes and have some tools to help combat it, hopefully, you can get that good night's sleep.