I recently heard someone describe the mental chatter that keeps you awake as “night chatter.” I think that’s a very appropriate term.
Many people talk to me about their struggles with sleep and most are complaining about night chatter – the mind that won’t turn off.
So, what to do?
My main suggestion is to use a concentration practice – give your mind a task. My favorite practice is breath counting. Count your exhalations up to 10 then backwards 10 to 1. Don’t change the breath in any way. Just feel its natural flow. Keep counting up to 10 and backwards 10 to 1.
Your mind will probably wander off at some point.That’s normal. When you notice that you’ve wandered off into ‘thinking’ just come back to counting your exhalations. You’ll probably do this several times so don’t judge yourself for wandering off. Again, it’s normal.
The mind is habituated to constantly thinking. It’s always commenting, analyzing and judging. Your mind is a highly specialized problem-solver and this evaluative mode of the brain is its default mode.
The problem is it doesn’t know how to turn off. Especially when you are trying to sleep. It’s ready to solve all the problems in the world!
Here’s how you turn it off – FEEL YOUR BODY. When you feel your body, you move into the experiential mode of the brain.
Really all you are doing is redirecting your awareness. Instead of letting the mind run willy-nilly into the land of thinking, turn your awareness toward feeling the body. Then give your mind a task that anchors you in the feeling mode. Like breath counting.