How to clear your mind and fall asleep

How to Clear Your Mind So You Can Sleep

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on February 22, 2022

While it’s a good idea to go to bed at the same time each night, there will be some nights when your brain is buzzing and not ready for sleep. If so, don’t lie down just yet. Your racing thoughts could lead to insomnia. Instead, do something to relax until you feel tired. Take a warm bath, for instance, or sit in a comfy chair and listen to soft, calming music. You’ll spend less time in bed but more time asleep.

Stressful subjects, like work or your finances, can make your thoughts churn. Take care of the bills and emails tomorrow. Also, turn off scary or action-filled movies and TV -- even the news. Log out of social media, too. Whether you engage in, or just watch or read a heated back-and-forth, your mind revs up and makes it harder to relax.

Work projects to finish, calls to make, kids to wrangle. It’s hard to drift off when you’re trying to remember every last thing you need to do when you wake up. Let go of this mental load by putting it down on paper. Take 5 minutes before bed to jot down every task you need to take care of in the a.m. You’ll get it off your mind and be able to fall asleep faster.

Release tension from your body, and you’ll find it easier to let go of stressful thoughts. Lie on a flat surface and allow your body to go limp. Take a breath and deeply exhale. Then, squeeze and release one section of your body at a time. Start with your toes. Your heels can come next, followed by your knees, thighs, belly, and so forth. Let your forehead be last. Notice how relaxed your body feels -- and enjoy it!

With your breath, you have a ready-made tool to relax your body and slow down the thoughts that keep you awake. Try this: Place a hand on your heart and feel its rhythm. Breathe in deep for 4 seconds, then take a long, slow breath out. Repeat this pattern until you can feel your heartbeat slow down. Your thoughts should soon ease up as well.

Your phone, tablet, and other screens can mess with your sleep. The reason? They give off blue light, which signals your body to stop making melatonin, the hormone that controls when you feel sleepy. Instead, this light tells your brain to stay alert. Not to mention the late-night dings and buzzes that can jolt you out of peaceful slumber. The best bet for better sleep is to keep computers, TVs, and, yes, your phone out of your bedroom.

Learn to calm your mind on demand, and you’ll find it easier to drift off at night. If you’re new to meditation practice, it helps to find a point of focus. It could be the sound of your breath or a simple phrase that you repeat in your head, like “I am at peace.” At first, you may struggle to tune out your thoughts. It’s OK to stop after a minute or two -- but try again the next night. Over time, you’ll be able to meditate longer.

If they’re stuck inside your mind, worries and “What ifs?” can grow unchecked. Say them out loud, and they might just vanish. You can test this tactic first: Start to recite the letters of the alphabet in your head. When you get a few letters in, say something out loud. Notice that your ABCs came to a halt? That’s what can happen when you give voice to your worries.

Many people say yoga helps them sleep better. Try “child’s pose” at bedtime. Kneel on the floor with your big toes together. Separate your knees the width of your hips, and sink your chest to your thighs. Let your forehead touch the ground. Have hip or knee issues? Try “corpse pose” instead. Lie on your back, legs apart and arms relaxed at your sides. Exhale and feel yourself sink into the ground. Stay in either pose for 3-5 minutes.

Spoiler alert: You won’t be able to get rid of all your worries for good. In fact, the more you tell yourself not to stress, the more you probably will. What can help is to schedule a “worry time” during your day. Choose a small window of time to sit quietly. Let yourself go over all the things that have you concerned, as well as some ways you might solve them. You may find that this allows you to worry less -- and sleep better.


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SOURCES: “How to cope with sleep problems.”

Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust: “Jacobson’s progressive relaxation technique.”

Anxiety and Depression Association of America: “Sleep Disorders.”

National Sleep Foundation: “How Does Anxiety Affect Sleep?” “Scary Ways Technology Affects Your Sleep,” “How to Meditate Before Bed.”

Journal of Experimental Psychology: “The effects of bedtime writing on difficulty falling asleep: A polysomnographic study comparing to-do lists and completed activity lists.”

The Sleep Council: “Seven Steps to a Better Night’s Sleep.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Yoga for Better Sleep.

Behavior Modification: “A Preliminary Investigation of Stimulus Control Training for Worry: Effects on Anxiety and Insomnia.”

Sleep Health Foundation Australia: “Anxiety and Sleep.”

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How to Quiet Your Mind to Get Better Sleep

Can’t put that racing mind to bed? Whether it’s stopping you from quickly falling asleep or staying asleep, there’s no question an unsettled mind can be a major obstacle to slumber.

“It’s one of the most common problems we hear in our sleep clinic, especially among people struggling with insomnia,” says Lawrence Chan, DO, a professor of sleep medicine at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus.

The problem is more than just annoying. Racing thoughts at bedtime — even if they aren’t anxious or worried thoughts — might contribute to sleep problems in people who have insomnia, according to a study published in November 2021 in the journal Comprehensive Psychiatry. The researchers noted that this is different from rumination, which is defined as obsessive, repetitive thinking that tends to focus on negative content.

There’s a reason many people can’t stop thinking about things before going to bed. Whether you’re exploring a new city or simply plugging away at your routine to-do list, your brain is collecting new information all day long, explains Michael Breus, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Manhattan Beach, California, who specializes in sleep disorders. He is also the author of The Power of When, a book on understanding your body clock and circadian rhythms.

“Not until you climb into bed do you have any quiet time, and all of that information, including your worries, comes flying through the door,” he says.

Anxious thoughts and rumination can also keep you awake, of course. If you tend to wake up in the middle of the night and a racing mind won’t let you get back to sleep, it may mean that something is bothering you more than you’d care to otherwise admit or address, Dr. Breus says. “It’s generally a sign that something stressful is going on in life.”

Whether you’re stressed, excited, or simply replaying your day, use these tips to help quiet your racing mind — before thinking too much at bedtime becomes a habit that’s too intense to stop on your own.

What to Do When You Can’t Fall Asleep

1. Ditch the Devices

Sleep doctors have been telling you for years to stop using smartphones, laptops, and tablets right before bed for good reason. Not only does the light from electronic screens mess up your melatonin production, which makes sleep physiologically harder to achieve, but smart devices can also heighten anxiety and worry if you’re reading stressful news on it. This habit makes the cycle of ruminating about bothersome or unpleasant news that much worse, Dr. Chan says.

Plus, the apps, websites, and news you’re consuming on such devices are meant (in large part) to keep you and your brain engaged, he adds. “The internet is designed to capture attention so that you spend more eye time on screens, which can be a detriment to sleep,” says Chan.

To protect your shut-eye, switch off your devices one to two hours before bed, ideally, or at least 30 minutes if you can’t swing that.

2. Schedule Some “Worry Time”

Just as you schedule time to see friends or get a massage, do the same with your worries. Schedule 15 to 30 minutes a day, at least one to two hours before bed, to write down those worries. In addition, create at least one action item you can do to help deal with the issue. Thinking through those potential stressors earlier in the day should help ease how much you worry about them when your head hits the pillow, Chan says. “Ideal sleep depends on creating routines and schedules, and this is no different,” he says.

3. Create a Routine to Power Down Your Brain

Most people assume that sleep is like breathing: Your body will just do it. Not true. Modern-day living has created so much stimulation during the day that brains now operate at warp speed, and if you don’t give yours time to rest, it’ll continue going at that speed at bedtime, says David Brodner, MD, founder of and principal physician at the Center for Sinus, Allergy, and Sleep Wellness in Boynton Beach, Florida.

At least 30 minutes before you go to bed, start your preparations and then do something relaxing like listening to music or reading. Keep it consistent, and you’ll train your body to expect sleep after that relaxation period.

4. Keep a Gratitude List

Now that you’ve dumped your worries, replace the void where those negative thoughts once lived with positive ones by starting a gratitude journal, Breus suggests. The impact of those positive thoughts is greater when you write them down. So try spending a few minutes each night listing three to five things you’re grateful for.

5. Practice 4-7-8 Breathing

You’ve heard how deep breathing can help combat stress, but it can also help you fall asleep. In order to sleep, your heart rate needs to slow down, Breus says, and breathing techniques are one of the most effective ways to achieve this goal.

One of Breus’s favorites is 4-7-8 breathing: Inhale for a count of four, hold for seven, and then blow out for eight. Do this at least five to seven times to slow your heart rate.

6. Do Progressive Muscle Relaxation

As you lie in bed, tense and relax all of your muscles one by one, starting at your toes and ending at your head. Not only is this incredibly relaxing, as the name implies, but it also forces you to think about the physical parts of your body, directing your attention away from whatever thoughts or stressors you’re fixating on, Breus says.

7. Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Going to bed and waking up at the same times each day is one of the pillars of sleep hygiene — those guidelines sleep docs recommend for ensuring a good night’s sleep. It helps the mind, too. “If you try to go to bed early, when your brain’s not ready to sleep, it will focus on other things,” Breus says, which keeps the brain excited and awake.

What to Do if You Wake Up in the Middle of the Night

1. Get Out of Bed

As counterintuitive as it may seem, climbing out of bed after about 20 minutes of worrying is the tried-and-true advice sleep doctors tell everyone they help and one of the hallmark steps of therapy for insomnia. If you spend time in bed worrying, your brain will begin to associate the two and not be able to sleep, Chan says. You’ll create a vicious cycle for yourself, whereby your bed increasingly becomes a space where it is difficult for you to sleep.

Instead, get out of bed and do something calming, such as reading a book, doing light chores, or journaling. As soon as you start getting sleepy, head to bed. “The goal is to increase your sleep efficiency, meaning that when you’re in bed, you’re sleeping,” Chan says.

2. Slow That Heart Rate

You may have used the 4-7-8 breathing technique or deep muscle relaxation before bed. Now try them again, as your goal is to not only lower that heart rate but also take your mind away from your thoughts, Breus says.

3. Write Down Your Worries

Keep a notepad and pen by your bed to scribble down worries that are at the front of your mind, Dr. Brodner says. This isn’t the same as pre-bed structured worry time, since you’re not creating solutions; you’re just getting your worries out of your head so your mind can rest.

4. Turn on the TV (and Half-Close Your Eyes)

This tip may be controversial, but a much-loved movie or TV show can take your mind off whatever is bothering you and potentially help you relax, says Breus.

Now, we know what you’re thinking: Yes, TVs emit blue light, which can mess with your melatonin production and make it harder to nod off. But unlike smartphones and tablets, which you hold close to your face, TVs are usually positioned “so far away that you’re not getting as much blue light as you think,” says Breus. Plus, most people aren’t actually watching TV as much as listening to it with their eyes closed, and blue light can’t penetrate closed eyelids.

Note, though, that most sleep guidelines recommend against TV in bed, including some experts from Sleep, so if listening to the TV isn’t helping you sleep, don’t do it.

It’s also worth stating that everyone has trouble sleeping from time to time. But if restless nights become the norm, rather than an occasional occurrence, tell your doctor. If you’re experiencing symptoms of insomnia, there are ways your doctor or a sleep specialist can help.

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how to help yourself empty your mind

Stoics such as Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and others understood and praised the power of an organized, clear mind - completely in control of your thoughts and paying attention to exactly what is important.

What you think about determines the quality of your mind.

- Marcus Aurelius

Most of us would like to be able to use our minds in this way. And sometimes we succeed. What seems like a simple act to stay in the present is actually a challenge for many. nine0003

So what do you do when you just can't get that often subtle control over your thoughts?

Where do centerliness and clarity come from?

In this blog post, we will cover two topics: tips and tricks to clear your mind whenever you need it. Whether meditating at home, in an important meeting at work, or in traffic, we'll look at a multifunctional approach to mental clarity and presence.

Why is it important to be able to clear your mind? nine0027

A clear mind is a powerful mind. With a clearer, more focused, and centered mindset, there is no end to the health and wellness benefits you can reap from working on a famous presence. Here are just some of the benefits you can count on:

  • Increasing creativity and flow

  • Improved awareness

  • A relaxed attitude that will attract others

  • More energy

  • Clarity in times of stress

  • Best Teaching

  • Improved memory

  • Better control of negative thoughts and feelings

  • Deal with difficult situations and emotions more easily

  • More presence at important moments

  • A more pleasant and useful life in general


Feeling foggy? What is brain fog?

Brain fog is a feeling of "fog" in the head, often due to lack of sleep or lack of energy.

If you have fog in your head, you may feel that you cannot concentrate or think clearly. You may find it difficult to focus on one task or topic. Or you may feel sleepy and generally tired. In these cases, if you do not have other symptoms, you can use the following tips to restore mental clarity and use a clear mind. nine0003

Note: Sometimes a symptom of brain fog can be associated with a more serious medical condition. Always talk to your doctor if you are concerned about the fog in your head or any other signs or symptoms that bother you.

Brain Fog Quick Tips

If you're feeling foggy or distracted, try these tips to instantly refocus.

1. Eat a healthy snack. nine0027

If you haven't eaten for hours, low blood sugar can be the cause of the brain fog you're experiencing. Try something healthy, like peanut butter and an apple, or a few carrot sticks and some hummus.

2. Take a nap.

Often, brain fog can be the result of lack of sleep. A short 20-minute nap can be enough to energize, relieve stress, and restore mental clarity to continue the day. nine0003

3. Go outside.

Sometimes when we're indoors for a long time, our brain needs fresh air to cheer up. Walk or stand outside for a few minutes and take a few deep breaths. Our brains get their energy from sunlight and fresh air, so being outdoors as much as the situation allows is very important for mental clarity. If you have access to nature, even better.

4. Drink some water.

Dehydration is one of the main reasons why we feel foggy and unfocused during the day. Most experts recommend drinking 3.7 liters of fluid per day for men and about 2.7 liters for women to stay hydrated. Carry a reusable water bottle with you or download an app that tracks how much water you drink throughout the day if you need extra responsibility.

5. Introduce regular exercise such as long runs, HIIT or yoga.

When you participate in physical activity, your body naturally releases endorphins, which cause positive sensations in the body and mind. Along with the release of endorphins, increased blood flow will help combat feelings of foggy and dizziness. Whether it's running, a dance class, or something more relaxed like yoga or Pilates, any movement will only bring health benefits. nine0003

How to Clear Your Mind

Perhaps it's time for a long-term solution or several, if it's not just an occasional bout of brain fog. You feel unfocused, lack mental energy and wander in thought.

Below is a list of handy techniques to clear your mind and refocus your attention and state of mind.


One of the main goals of meditation is to achieve a calm mental state, which we all strive for. nine0003

The practice of meditation helps to clear the mind, as it aims to eliminate distractions. When we meditate, we focus on the mind-body connection, usually through breathing techniques and observation of the breath. Some meditations include mantra recitation or visualization. In a way, we are training our mind to focus on real sounds and sensations, which leads to the development of a habit of continuous awareness after the practice is over.

During the day, most of us are constantly distracted. You've experienced it all: people walking in and out of our office to ask questions or say hello, social media notifications on your phone, text messages, phone calls and emails. nine0003

To say that we are out of focus is an understatement. Modern life moves at such a fast pace that it naturally causes stress, anxiety, disconnection and hyperactivity.

Self-mindfulness practice or guided meditation may be just what we need to re-center, stay in the present moment, and clear our minds to put our thoughts in order. There are various forms of meditation and meditation techniques for absolute beginners and advanced practitioners, both guided and unguided. nine0003

How to clear your mind for meditation

"Do you want to know how to clear your mind for meditation?" is one of the most frequently asked questions regarding the practice of meditation. But this is also somewhat counterintuitive, as meditation is supposed to clear your mind first. This can work in reverse, as deep meditation experiences require a clearing of the mind to occur to a certain extent.

The best way to clear your mind before meditation is to make sure you are practicing the right technique. First, you must be in a quiet place with no distractions. nine0003

Get into a comfortable position. Sit upright on a meditation cushion, pillow, or chair with your palms up and your hands on your knees or at your sides. Close your eyes slightly or keep them slightly open while looking at the ground in the distance. Do this every time before meditation for mental clarity. This is a grounding practice that sets you up for deep meditation practice.


Yoga, as a regular practice, is great for centering and refocusing the mind. It enhances the connection between mind and body, strengthening the connection between breath, movement and cognitive thinking, improving the quality of your life. As a form of exercise, yoga can help alleviate the effects of brain fog. Our body needs daily physical movement. Sweat releases toxins. Heavy breathing revives a sluggish cardiovascular system. And physical exercise relaxes and strengthens muscles and bones, revitalizing you physically and mentally. nine0003

Yoga is a wonderful way to clear the mind. New to yoga? Sign up for a yoga class at a local studio, starting with something gentle, like restorative or hatha yoga. If you don't have a studio nearby, try looking online for lessons - from youtube to streaming platforms, there are an endless array of options to suit your ability and pocket.

Deep Breathing

Just a few moments of mindful breathing will help you instantly clear your mind. When it comes to focusing and focusing your mind, breathing is a useful tool by strengthening the mind-body connection. nine0003

Square breathing is one technique that can help calm the fight-or-flight stress response, or simply bring the senses back to a calm state when the day gets hectic. Your practice doesn't have to be owned by anyone, and you can do it anywhere, anytime - in the office, on the train, in line for coffee.

Along with meditation, the practice of breathing is one of the most effective tools for managing stress and relieving anxiety. It also improves memory and helps you solve problems with ease and less distraction. nine0003

How to do square breathing

Learn the different steps of the square breathing process, also known as box breathing. Below we have described the classical approach to the practice of square breathing.

1. Find a quiet place where you can be alone and undisturbed for at least five minutes.

2. Sit with a straight back on a chair or on the floor. You can also take a pillow to sit on.

3. Place your hands at your sides or on your knees, palms up, and gently close your eyes. Relax your muscles as much as you can. nine0003

4. Begin by exhaling. You must start by getting all the air out of your lungs.

5. Square breathing consists of four parts. The first part begins with an inhalation. Inhale slowly while mentally counting to four. On the count of four, your lungs should be filled with air.

6. Hold the air in your lungs for four more counts.

7. Now slowly exhale the air, mentally counting to four. When you count to four, all the air should be out of your lungs. nine0003

8. Finally, hold the air in your lungs for the last count of four.

9. Repeat this exercise as many times as you like, but not too often, as this may cause slight dizziness. Generally, practicing square breathing for three to five minutes can help you relieve stress and improve your overall state of mind.

Diet improvement

We are what we eat. Eating more nutritious foods is a great way to improve your focus. Especially when we're busy and distracted, it's not uncommon for us to snack on quick, easy, and sugary foods on the go. nine0003

Unfortunately, this leads to the rapid consumption of a range of non-nutritious foods. It is much better to spend time eating healthy and developing sustainable eating habits that will nourish both body and mind.

Here are some foods that are great for the mind.

  • Green tea improves memory and mental abilities. It's a great mood booster by releasing caffeine at a slower rate, which means you're less likely to experience energy ups and downs like coffee usually does. nine0003

  • Nuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which increase brain activity and improve cognitive function. Nuts are the perfect on-the-go snack for your brain.

  • Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, making them ideal for preventing neurodegenerative diseases that can be associated with prolonged brain fog.

Many of us tend to eat quickly, which negatively impacts how mindfully we eat every day. Practicing mindful chewing and mindful eating can bring more mindfulness back into the way we eat. Mindful eating can also help you manage overeating and control portions. Pay attention to how fast you eat and how quickly or slowly you feel full; noticing the little things we usually take for granted is a potential solution for a clearer and more focused mind. nine0003

Better sleep

Better sleep can do wonders for your mental clarity. Lack of sleep causes brain fog and an inability to focus on difficult tasks during the day.

To improve your sleep, try to spend more time developing a regular nightly routine. For example, before going to bed:

  • Apply a few drops of essential oils to your pillow for a soothing fragrance when you go to bed

  • nine0002 Turn on relaxing music

  • Turn off all screens

  • Dim the lights

  • Make your bedroom comfortable

  • Lay fresh sheets and blankets

  • Read a book before falling asleep

  • Put on comfortable pajamas

  • Try Guided Sleep Meditation

How to clear your mind for sleep

Another technique you can try is progressive muscle relaxation. Here's how to do it:

1. Lie on your back in bed, ready for bed.

2. Beginning at the toes, firmly squeeze the toes and feet for a count of five. Release and wait five more times before moving on to the calves.

3. Squeeze and tighten your calf muscles for a count of five. Let go and wait five more times.

4. Continue doing this to the upper body and muscles of the neck and head. nine0003

Doing these things will free your mind and improve your sleep.

Clear Your Mind: Frequently Asked Questions

What are some tips for clearing your mind of negative thoughts?

Negative thoughts have a habit of creeping into the mind uninvited.

You may be in bed trying to sleep when you suddenly remember a bill you forgot to pay. Or perhaps you're on a date with your partner when you think he's acting weird - is he angry? Are they irritated with you? Are they thinking of someone else? nine0003

In most cases, the best way to stop these negative thoughts is to act as the "bouncer" in your mind and say a hard "no" to useless, negative thoughts. If it's not a good or constructive thought, don't let it in.

Obviously, this is easier said than done. With practice, you may notice that this muscle gets stronger and you can resist the lingering negative thoughts you once had. Sometimes the cleansing of the mind is accompanied by a struggle. nine0003

How to empty your mind?

In the end, "emptying the mind" may not be what you really want to achieve. Perhaps a focused or clear mind is a better representation than an empty mind. After all, an empty mind is completely devoid of thoughts, thinking and feeling. On the other hand, a focused or clear mind is a mind with intention, awareness and sharpness. To develop a clear or focused mind, try meditation, mindfulness, yoga, deep breathing, or exercise. nine0003

How can I clear my mind and focus on one thing?

When you are distracted by extraneous thoughts, it can be difficult to clear your mind and focus on one thing. That's why eliminating distractions is the number one way to focus on a task at a specific time. Turn off all screens and media, go to a quiet place, don't bring snacks or drinks with you, and have nothing in front of you but the task you want to accomplish. In the long run, you can improve your ability to concentrate using deep breathing, mindfulness practices, yoga, and meditation. nine0003

In addition to the above, the simple act of writing and making a to-do list is a great tool to bring more clarity to your mind. Keeping a journal, making a list, and setting goals on a piece of paper brings more order to your life. The next time you feel overwhelmed or unable to focus, write everything down on paper.

If you are overwhelmed by emotions or feel blocked in your mind, try expressive writing - a personal and emotional form of writing where you let your thoughts fly as they come to you. nine0003

How can I clear my mind and relax?

When you are in trouble and your mind is fluttering with thoughts, you can clear it and relax by taking a few deep breaths. Breathe deeply into the lower abdomen and slowly. As you inhale, slowly mentally count to four, and do the same as you exhale. Repeat at least three times.



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American psychologist and sleep specialist James Findley named eight ways to fall asleep quickly when disturbing thoughts bother you.

"Very often people complain that they are physically tired, but they can't sleep because of worries and intrusive thoughts," says James Findlay. According to the expert, there are some techniques that help to cope with anxiety and sleep soundly.

Video of the Day

If you often suffer from insomnia, consider these eight tips:

1. Make a to-do list. If you have disturbing, negative thoughts before going to bed, turn them into positive ones. Make a list of useful things to do the next day, it can be pleasant trips or good deeds. Falling asleep, you will think about your plans. And studies show that writing down tasks helps clear your mind and set you up for a productive new day, which means falling asleep faster.

2. Get out of bed. If you toss and turn in bed for a long time and cannot fall asleep, it is better to get up and concentrate on something else. Psychologists say that frequent, prolonged attempts to sleep train the brain in such a way that it begins to associate the bed in your bedroom with insomnia. If you can't fall asleep within 20-30 minutes, get up and do something: read, do crossword puzzles. Soon you will really want to sleep. nine0003

3. Read a book, but not a very exciting one. You can't just stop the intrusive thoughts in your head, but you can take your mind off them by turning your attention to a book. But it has to be a paper book, as gadget screens can further disrupt sleep. When you are distracted from what is bothering you, you fall asleep faster. The main thing is not to choose a book that is too interesting, from which it will also be difficult to tear yourself away.

4. Listen to a podcast or audiobook. nine0388 An audiobook or podcast acts just like a book, distracts from heavy thoughts and calms. After listening, you can sleep peacefully.

5. Or turn on soothing sounds. You can create a sleep-friendly sound environment for yourself. Some people are calmed by the sound of the ocean, others by the singing of birds or the sounds of the evening forest. Just download these sounds and put on your headphones.

6. Focus on your breathing. Deep and slow breathing can slow down the heart rate and relieve nervous tension. Accordingly, it will be easier for you to fall asleep. nine0003

7. Meditate. Meditation allows you to find peace of mind and calm down.

Learn more