Why is it when we always lie down for bed, we're suddenly flooded with negative thoughts, worst-case scenarios and scads of mental to-do lists?
Getting the recommended amount of Zzs should be something we strive for, but our brains have a way of making those extra hours a little elusive. Ruminating over your worries as your head hits the pillow can put you on the fast track to a restless night. So, perhaps, the solution for drifting off to dreamland lies in what we tell ourselves before we crawl under the sheets.
If you're looking for a little calm before shutting those eyes, try these five sleep mantras instead.
"I'm thankful for..."
What can't gratitude do? Practicing thankfulness can increase our happiness levels, boost our immune systems and strengthen our relationships -- and, yes, it can also help us sleep better. Before you go to bed, reflect on what you're thankful for (or, better yet, write it down). You may sleep in the dark, but you'll be looking at the bright side.
"Let it be."
Have you ever heard of the saying "never go to bed angry"? Research shows reflecting on negative emotions after we crawl into bed makes it less likely that we'll get adequate rest, according to a 2012 study.
That doesn't necessarily mean you have to resolve all conflicts before going to sleep (in fact, as Women's Health reported earlier this year, it may work in your benefit to wait until the morning), you should clear your mind of anxieties when you shut those eyes. Whether the conflict requires an apology, a pause or just some time to talk it out, make sure you have peace of mind before you hit the pillow.
"I am strong."
Or -- if you prefer another adjective -- kind, brave and loved all work, too. The point is to reflect on your accomplishments, strengths and characteristics. A 2014 study suggests that self-acceptance is crucial to a happier life, yet we rarely practice it. We could all use a little boost -- and aren't these positive thoughts infinitely nicer to think about than the mishap we had at work that day?
"How can I make this better?"
If you're stuck in a creative rut, try asking yourself the specific question you've been trying to solve right as you go to bed. According to best-selling author Steven Kotler, your solution might lie in your sleeping brain through lucid dreaming. "It is pretty easy to ask the intrinsic system a question ... Out loud or silently, doesn’t seem to matter," he writes in a Psychology Today post on hacking creativity. You may just land on that "aha!" moment you've been consciously striving for.
"I will find calm."
If you have been tossing and turning for a while, you may find solace in focusing on one calming phrase, according to wellness expert Deepak Chopra, M.D. Repeat the mantra silently to yourself. If you find yourself becoming distracted, gently return your thoughts to just the repetition of that phrase. Check out these suggestions for more calming mantras to try.
This GPS Guide is part of a series of posts designed to bring you back to balance when you're feeling off course.
GPS Guides are our way of showing you what has relieved others' stress in the hopes that you will be able to identify solutions that work for you. We all have de-stressing "secret weapons" that we pull out in times of tension or anxiety, whether they be photos that relax us or make us smile, songs that bring us back to our heart, quotes or poems that create a feeling of harmony or meditative exercises that help us find a sense of silence and calm. We encourage you to visit our other GPS Guides here, and share with us your own personal tips for finding peace, balance and tranquility.