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5 Productive Ways to Stop the Nightly Mind Race

Girl Unable to Sleep Due to Stress

It happens to all of us. We hop into bed only to lie awake thinking of all the things that aren’t done, or need to be done the next day. Racing to solve problems and map out solutions, our mind quickly goes to work for tomorrow instead of focusing on the sleep needed today. Here are 5 productive ways to curb the anxiety before it sleep deprives: 

  1. Carve out the “Before Bed Routine”
  2. Make a to do list before bed
  3. Recount Daily Accomplishments
  4. Show Gratitude
  5. Calm the senses

#1: Carve out the “Before Bed” Routine

 I used to fly out the door, borderline late every morning until I carved out a “Before Bed” Routine.

Decide what needs to be accomplished to feel ready for the next day. Set a time limit for the night before – 15 minutes, 30 minutes, whatever’s needed.

Example (in order):

  1. Write To Do list for next day
  2. Portion lunch in the fridge
  3. Place keys on the keyhook
  4. Bathe
  5. Lay out clothing

Note: The order is important as it winds down the body by activity, allowing an easy transition into calm.

#2: Make a To Do List Before Bed

As part of the “Before Bed” Routine, jotting down the items to accomplish the next day can allow your subconscious mind (for more on this, click here) to start working on them while you sleep. Crazy, right? Also, you can rest assured knowing you’ve created a space for those items to be accomplished the next day. For more productivity tips, read “Upping Your Productivity: The Daily To Do List”.

#3: Recount Daily Accomplishments

When my mind races of all of the things I didn’t do, I acknowledge the things I did do, and how accomplished I felt. Big or small, I recount them. After each one, say, “I did so many great productive things today, and I feel accomplished,” either to in your head, or aloud. Everyone likes acknowledgment of how awesome they are, so why not start with patting yourself on the back.

#4: Show Gratitude

 Counting blessings can contribute to a calm mind. Showing gratitude instills happiness and positivity, having major health benefits such as – you guessed it – better sleep. Practice gratitude throughout the day by writing what you’re thankful for in a small notebook, or keeping a jar full of post-its that have moments of gratitude written on them. If you’re mind races at night, you’ll have quick recall from writing them down.

For more benefits of gratitude, visit Happier Human.

#5: Calm the Senses

Aromatherapy. Use an essential oil diffuser to calm your nerves and put you in a more productive mindset. These little gems can cost less than $20 on Amazon or other sites, and provide the air with a calming scent. My favorite combination is peppermint, lavender, and lemon which also helps with allergies.

Tea, Please. Fix a cup of caffeine-free tea before bed. Many brands make both a chamomile and “Sleepy” tea that both cost less than $5 per box.

Kick the Buzzer. Change up the morning alarm for a calmer start to the day. If using an iPhone, change the song to something calming such as a “soundscape” of nature. Philips introduced an alarm clock / lamp that features a light simulating sunrise, right the bedroom. Allegedly, the sunrise effect provides a more refreshed wake up in the morning, making it easier to get out of bed. Bonus – use it as a bedside lamp for reading.

Whatever combination used, all provide a healthier more productive state of mind. Small changes easily produce calmness and happiness, both dissipating the anxiety that causes us to lie awake at night.

What’s your go-to for stopping the “Mind Race”?

Until next time,


Kirsten Ebey, MSA PMP

Kirsten is the founder of Path to Summit LLC, a small business coaching firm in the Greater Denver Area. She works with small businesses to realize idea potential, create consistent & forward momentum, and plan for short & long term success.

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