Are Our Minds More Active At Night?

Are Our Minds More Active At Night?

Allow yourself to ignore the distractions and find peace of mind tonight.
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If you’re anything like me, your daily and nightly routine seem to be a bit backward when it comes to energy. While I wake up early each day, I find myself more awake when I’m trying to fall asleep. Why is this? We’ve gone through an entire day’s work – a good workout, a full work day, and after-work errands – yet it feels like our minds are more active than ever upon the day’s close.

I did some research to answer the question, “are our minds more active at night?” and here is what I found:

Your brain is more creative when you’re tired.
One of my favorite professors in college taught a class called, “Creative Processes.” In this class, we kept a journal of illustrations, quotes, assignments…anything that sparked an idea. He encouraged us to keep this journal next to us at night in case our next great idea hit, reminding us it would be much more difficult to recall in the morning. For those of us that enjoy the creative arts, this makes perfect sense. We’re constantly thinking up new ideas and what we want to accomplish next. If you don’t consider yourself creative, don’t worry. Creativity comes in many forms – like planning out your next day’s activities or thinking up a list of to-dos. You're more creative than you think, especially when you're tired.

At night, there are a smaller amount of distractions.
Throughout the day, you’re distracted by a variety of people and experiences. At work, you focus on your load of responsibilities. At the gym, you focus on your exercise goals. At home, you focus on making dinner or conversation. What happens when you lay down to go to sleep? None of this. There are practically no distractions. Your mind can wander as long as you’ll let it, and most of us let that get the best of us.

You worry too much.
Thinking and worrying are two completely separate concepts. While many of us think about our day and the day coming up, many of us also worry about tasks we didn’t get to. Worrying isn’t productive – it’s just the opposite. It leads to an overactive mind and racing thoughts that prevent us from falling asleep. What I’ve found useful is keeping a list of tasks along with a date of when they need to be completed. I hate procrastinating, so I always give myself a couple more days than I actually need. This keeps me in order, on track, and less forgetful. At the end of the day, I cross off what I’ve done. The rest stays on the list and out of mind.

Winding down.
We all have busy days and find ourselves working from the time we get up until the time we lay down. It can be difficult to transition from one to the other, especially when we’re not getting to bed at the time we’d like. Set a hard cut off of when you hit the pillow. Give yourself at least half an hour before bed to rid your mind of that chaos. Relax. Turn off the screens, take a bath, read a book, write, hold a conversation. Wind down.

While our minds are seemingly more active during the day, we tend to create unneeded activity at night. There will never be enough time in a day to accomplish everything on your list. Understand that when your day comes to an end, you’ve done all that you could have. Allow yourself to ignore the distractions, let go of the stress and find peace of mind. Tomorrow, you can start again.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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Why Your Grandma Is Your Biggest Blessing In Life

Because nobody loves you more than she does.
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There are many people in your life you are thankful for: Mom, Dad, siblings, cousins, best friends, teachers, neighbors, you name it. You are grateful to have people who constantly support you, who pick you up when you're down and love you unconditionally. But the one person who stands out among the rest of them is your grandma.

SEE ALSO: 10 Reasons Why Your Grandma Is The Best Person In Your Life

Ever since you were little, you and your grandma have always had a special connection. Going over to Grandma's house for the night was something you looked forward to. She knew how to entertain you at your best and worst moments. No matter what you did together, you loved it. Being with your grandma wasn't like being at home or with your parents – it was better. You went to the park, made cookies, went out to dinner, got a “sweet treat" at the mall, played Go Fish, took a bubble bath for as long as you wanted and got way too much dessert than you should have. You did things you weren't supposed to do, but Grandma didn't stop you. Because at Grandma's house there were no rules, and you didn't have to worry about a single thing. Being with Grandma was the true epitome of childhood. She let you be you. She always made sure you had the best time when you were with her, and she loved watching you grow up with a smile on your face.

The older you got, your weekend excursions with your grandma weren't as frequent, and you didn't get to see her as much. You became more and more busy with school, homework, clubs, sports, and friends. You made the most out of your time to see her, and you wished you could be with her more. Although you were in the prime of your life, she mattered even more to you the older you both became. You were with your friends 24/7, but you missed being with your grandma. When the time rolled around, and you got the chance to spend time with her, she told you never to apologize. She wanted you to go out, have fun and enjoy life the way it makes you happy.

Reflecting back on these moments with your grandma, you realize how truly special she is to you. There is no one who could ever compare to her nor will there ever be. All your life, there is no one who will be as sweet, as caring, as sincere or as genuine as her. Even though you're all grown up now, there are things about your grandma that never changed from when you were a kid. She still takes you out for your favorite meal because she knows how important eating out means to you. She writes you letters and sends you a $5 bill every now and then because she knows you're a hard-working college student with no money. She still helps you with all of your Christmas shopping because she knows it's your tradition. She still asks what's new with your young life because hearing about it makes her day and she still loves you to no end. Your grandma is your biggest blessing (whether you knew it or not), and she always will be no matter what.

Cover Image Credit: Erin Kron

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Picking Up The Pieces After Half A Year Of Grief

I learned how the strongest people still standing are the ones that are limping, barely holding themselves together, and those are the people that walk with peace and wisdom. Yes, I identify as one of these people, and by the grace of God, I know what it means now to trust and feel joy. For all this, I am the luckiest person in the world, and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

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Half a year ago, my entire life changed in the split of a second. Almost every part of myself as I knew it went away and fell apart. I got depressed, really depressed, and at times woke up at night close to 4 a.m., shaking with terrible panic attacks. I lost friends. Almost all of my relationships changed. I questioned everything: who I was, my belief in a benevolent God, and whether I could still be a good person, a good friend, and a positive contribution to society, and a beloved child of God after I'd hurt people so badly.

No, I don't want to talk about what happened, and most likely never will except to the people I love. Instead, I want to talk about picking up the pieces and getting my life back together. No, there was no getting over it. No, it wasn't easy. No, the task isn't even complete. It might never be.

But now, in reflection, I learned more outside the classroom through having my experience than anything I learned in a classroom.

I learned that everything is complicated, absolutely everything. I learned that you have to withhold judgment and trust your gut about people until you have all the details. I learned that life goes on. It always does, but that isn't always a good thing, and at times, for me, it really wasn't. But at that moment, I also learned that God is good, even if life isn't. I learned that life is inherently confusing. Everyone is telling the truth, even if those truths are in direct conflict with each other.

I learned that life doesn't get easier. You get stronger, and life just gets different. I learned, in the words of William Faulkner, that the past doesn't go away. It's not even past. I learned that there isn't always a resolution to problems, and even though it hurts, you have to be okay with that.

I learned, after all, that life will never be the same. It never can, but that's not always a bad thing. There's a whole world out there ready to be explored. I learned, in an extreme way, that it doesn't matter what other people think about you. It matters what you think and what God thinks. I learned that sometimes you just have to stop and let yourself feel the pain and grief instead of pushing it away, because that's the only way you can go through life without people seeing that you're only a shred of a person lost and not all there. Sometimes, you just have to stop and know this: you're doing the absolute best you can. You're acting according to God's plan, and there's a bigger picture for all this.

I learned that picking up the pieces means accepting that life is sometimes good, sometimes bad, and at its worse, really ugly. I learned that picking up the pieces means that the story is never over. Yes, a traumatic moment or death re-organizes and re-charts your life entirely. Your plans are destroyed, but the beauty of life is that it won't go according to your plans. I learned that grief comes at life's most unexpected moments, and that even if that's embarassing, it happens that way for a reason.

I learned that life cannot go on if you sit in your room all day and cower in shame, unable to let yourself confront your demons. I learned that picking up the pieces means treating people with respect, like you would want to be treated, and saying hi and smiling even if they won't return that grace. I learned that life is about never giving up on people, even if your relationship with them is not the same and destroyed. I learned that life is an amalgamation of "so whats," a combination of accepting the notion that "so what this happened. What now?" to live in the moment.

But above all, I learned that picking up the pieces means owning your story. Every single part of it couldn't have happened to anyone else. But yours can help other people as long as you let it. I learned that the only reason you feel this much pain and love is that you loved something and loved people so much in the first place, and it's important not to lose sight of that love.

I learned, perhaps most importantly, that it's more important to be kind than right. Even if you're right, it's important to not get stuck in the pain. It's important to not defend yourself and stand down and surrender to the people that want you to suffer and rip you to shreds. What can they do to someone who already died over and over again, who can withstand anything through the grace of God?

Six months later, I'm eternally grateful. I'm more alive than I've ever been. I know what it is now to not need to control my life. I learned what it means to surrender. I learned how the strongest people still standing are the ones that are limping, barely holding themselves together, and those are the people that walk with peace and wisdom. Yes, I identify as one of these people, and by the grace of God, I know what it means now to trust and feel joy. For all this, I am the luckiest person in the world, and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

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