6. Don’t relive the worst part of your day
Worrying and rumination are often partners in crime in keeping you awake at night. Worrying tends to involve future events; for example, you may worry that you will get fired because of your sleep problems. Rumination tends to focus on past events; you may be thinking about something you said at work and wishing you had said something different. On the surface, figuring out what went wrong and why may seem helpful in preventing similar disasters in the future, but ultimately both worry and rumination lead to feeling worse, and can become difficult to control.
Remind yourself that this type of thinking is unhelpful. Draw your attention away from thoughts of the past by focusing on the here and now. Take a deliberate vacation from your rumination. How? First, focus your attention on your breathing—the sounds and feeling of air moving into your nose, warming your nasal passages and travelling down into your chest. Now focus on the sounds and feeling of air being moved upward and out of your body. If your attention wanders, do not judge yourself; that’s normal. Instead, gently bring your attention back to your breath.
To sum up:
• Set aside time to address unresolved concerns.
• If worries persist, generate thoughts and images to distract you that are engaging but not too alerting.
• Challenge the idea that being awake at night is a complete catastrophe.
• Counteract worry by focusing on the present moment.
Adapted From Goodnight Mind: Turn Off Your Noisy Thoughts and Get A Good Night’s Sleep (Reader’s Digest) 2013