Tossing and turning at 3 am isn’t fun, is it? Trying to fall asleep when you have a lot on your mind is almost impossible.
That’s why unwinding and letting the mind rest is a skill, and for overthinkers, achieving this can be a real challenge.
From restlessness and self-awareness to perfectionism and worrying, there are many traits that people who overthink at night and struggle to sleep usually have in common.
So, let’s take a closer look and know that if you have difficulty sleeping, you’re not alone. Many people share the same struggles as you do.
1) They persistently worry
Although I’m not a person who worries all the time, I do have periods when I simply can’t fall asleep because I think about what kind of world I’m leaving behind for my son.
On the other hand, my wife worries not just about that but also about many, many more mundane things, many of which are completely out of her control.
No wonder then that she can’t fall asleep, but also that she can’t sleep at all at times. When I notice her tossing and turning, I try to ease her mind, but she just overthinks things, and nothing seems to help at the moment.
Overthinkers like her simply find themselves caught up in a cycle of worrying about potential outcomes or future scenarios, making it challenging to shut off the mental chatter.
2) They’re hyper-analytical
People who struggle to sleep love breaking down situations into minute details, often analyzing things to the nth degree.
It’s like their brains are in a perpetual analysis mode, even when it’s time to wind down. If they don’t learn how to tame that mind that works overtime, they almost never get a good night’s sleep, and that can lead to many health issues.
What helps me to fall asleep is to focus on breathing for five minutes. Many fitness trackers and smartwatches have breathing exercises built in, and they guide you on how to do them.
In essence, you simply focus on breathing in and out deeply, and it works as a charm. Many times, I fall asleep in less than a couple of minutes by simply focusing on this simple exercise.
3) They have perfectionistic tendencies
There’s nothing wrong with being a perfectionist. In fact, I wish more people would strive for perfection in some aspects of their lives.
That said, striving for perfection can lead to a constant feeling of not measuring up, creating a mental loop that’s hard to escape, especially when trying to sleep.
And that’s the biggest issue about it, right? Comparing yourself with others. The drive for perfection should ideally come from within and not because you want to be better than your friend, neighbor, colleague…
4) They’re highly self-aware
Being acutely aware of your thoughts and actions can sometimes translate to overthinking. You simply can’t switch off your introspective tendencies, right?
You’re so aware of every little thing happening in your head that you have a constant stream of thoughts.
When it’s time to chill out, like when you’re trying to unwind for the night, your mind doesn’t just flip a switch and turn off. Instead, it keeps analyzing and reflecting on things.
5) They can’t let go of thoughts
Picture this: you’ve had a long day, you’re finally in bed, and it’s time to let your mind wind down. But, for some reason, certain thoughts refuse to take a backseat.
Many people struggle to release thoughts, ideas, or worries, even when it’s time to relax. The mind holds onto them, making it tough to transition into a more relaxed state.
In a nutshell, it’s like trying to leave the office behind when you’re on vacation. Your brain has a tough time clocking out, and those lingering thoughts can be a real party pooper when all you want is a quiet night’s sleep.
6) Their creative thinking runs on overdrive
While creativity is fantastic, an overactive creative mind can lead to a flood of ideas and thoughts when all that’s needed is a mental break.
Some people’s brains are like a bustling workshop of creativity, constantly churning out thoughts, concepts, and what-ifs.
So, the downside is that when they should be easing into relaxation mode, their minds are still in high gear, exploring possibilities and conjuring up new ideas.
For people like that, I suggest journaling. If your mind is a tornado of thoughts, spill them onto paper. This can be surprisingly therapeutic and can help clear mental clutter before hitting the hay.
7) They think about the future. A lot.
Constantly thinking about the future, whether it’s planning or worrying about what’s to come, can keep the mind buzzing when it should be winding down for the night.
While this forward-thinking can be great for setting goals and making plans, it can become a bit of a night owl’s nightmare.
The mental movie reel keeps rolling, and you find yourself starring in scenes from the future instead of peacefully enjoying the present moment.
8) They’re highly sensitive to external stimuli
I’m highly sensitive to noises, lights, and other things like cats waking up at 3 am and running around the apartment.
I don’t have to tell you how challenging it is to create a conducive sleep environment. If you live in a city, there are constantly people buzzing and driving around. In the countryside, dogs are barking, owls hooting, wind rustling, and so on.
That’s why I’ve been sleeping with earplugs for almost ten years now. Once you get used to not hearing almost anything but a strange sound of silence coming from inside you, you’re sleeping like a baby.
9) They’re restless
Restlessness is a big one. It can be a huge problem when you’re supposed to sleep, but your mind has different ideas.
The worst thing about it is that it’s not the kind of restlessness that makes you want to get up and go for a run; it’s more of an internal agitation.
The thoughts keep racing, the mental gears keep turning, and it feels like there’s this invisible force keeping them from settling down.
No matter what you do, the body and mind just won’t budge, and you find yourself sitting at the edge of the bed with your hands holding up your head, not knowing what to do next.
10) They’re conscientious
Many people who overthink at night and struggle to sleep have a strong sense of responsibility and thoroughness, which results in overthinking, especially when reviewing past actions or anticipating future responsibilities.
This sense of responsibility lingers into the night. It contributes to a sense of duty that prevents the mind from settling.
A conscientious person is the one who meticulously plans things out, dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s.
They’re diligent and thorough in their work, making sure every detail is in place. You can count on them to be reliable because they don’t mess around when it comes to meeting commitments.
However, the downside is that their principled nature means they have a tough time just letting loose and going with the flow.
They find it a bit challenging to switch off from their sense of duty, even when it’s time to unwind.
So, in the end, it seems that many overthinkers who can’t get a good night’s sleep have the desire for control.
This manifests as a need to anticipate and plan for every possible scenario, leading to overthinking about the future.
Luckily, there are many tried and tested techniques and remedies that you can employ to fall asleep faster, sleep better, and wake up refreshed.
From white noise and mindful breathing to teas and having a bedtime routine, there are many things you should try.
Still, the best remedy is learning how to relax and leave the thoughts outside the bedroom. And if you have a source of stress, eliminating it is your best shot at having a sound sleep.
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