S1:E9 | The power of a brain dump for sleep

podcast season 1 wind down wind down time
The power of a brain dump for sleep podcast

Have you ever done a brain dump? It can be such a valuable tool and I advocate for using one at the end of every day as part of your wind down time.

Find out why, and how to do it in this episode.

 Hello and welcome back to The Sleep Seekers Podcast. 

Today's episode is all about the power of the brain dump! This episode falls within our season on wind down time because I am a big fan of a brain dump as part of your wind down routine and I will explain why in just a minute, but in truth, a brain dump is helpful at any time of the day. 

A brain dump is essentially about getting everything out of your head and onto a piece of paper. I think that this should be unfiltered, just getting everything out is the priority. You are not editing your thoughts for what is helpful, what is ok and what isn’t etc. You are just working on emptying your head onto the paper. Like if I were to tip you up and give you a shake, what would come out of your head? 

The human brain was never meant to be a storage facility. Yet with our busy lives, constant bombardment of messages coming from every which way, they can easily end up storing far more than they can deal with. And this results in a constant mental whirring, a mind that struggles to switch off, thoughts turning up at all times of the day and night and sleep that is impacted through quantity, quality or both

A busy full mind can lead to taking longer to get to sleep, waking during the night with a busy mind, early waking, lighter, less good quality sleep or being stressed out in your sleep eg, dreaming about the things on your mind. 

Have you ever found that you can feel fine going to bed and not particularly be thinking about something and then you will wake up in the night thinking about it? Or, how true is that old joke … it will come to me, probably in the middle of the night! 

This is because your brain doesn’t like open loops … unresolved things. It will continue working on them in the background of your mind and therefore often throw them up in the middle of the night when it’s quiet and there is nothing else to distract. 

This is where the brain dump is really helpful. 

Does the brain dump resolve everything? No, of course not. But what it does do is park worries, things to remember, plans etc until tomorrow when they can be picked up again. It’s like they are emptied and kept safe so that your brain can relax and access the sleep it needs to be ready to go again tomorrow. 


So, how do you do it? 

For most people, I usually suggest doing a brain dump right at the end of your day, just as you’re about to start your wind down time. There is a section in the wind down journal on each of the daily pages for this purpose. 


So a few guidelines … 

The aim is to get everything out of your head and onto paper where it can stay until tomorrow. You just need to get it out of your head, it doesn’t need to be pretty or organised - that is not the purpose here. Let it be messy, knowing that every bit of mess is a bit less mess in your brain!

Don't assume you will remember anything - get it all down. Your brain has to expend energy to hold things in there and there is no need. I often make a note of messages I need to reply to, things I need to buy from the shop etc. Which leads to my next point … 

Nothing is too small to write down. Again, it’s the small seemingly insignificant things that can clog up the brain. And, isn’t it the small things that can seem so big when you are awake in the night or early morning? Jot them down to deal with them tomorrow.

Don’t forget the emotional stuff. It might not be a ‘to do’ item but the emotional stuff is just as important as the practical stuff. So include notes on 'anxious about' … or 'worried about' … or 'need to find a way to tell x person' something. 

At first it might feel a bit overwhelming to do this brain dump if it’s new to you but the more you practice, especially if you do it everyday, the easier and more natural it will become. I couldn’t imagine my evenings without it. 

I go into this much more in the evening wind down programme and the sleep optimiser programme which is like the extended full night version but once this brain dump is done at the start of your wind down time, it creates a beautiful boundary that can then go a long way to helping your mind to ‘switch off’ for sleep. The brain dump is not the whole story, but it is an important piece. 

So, do you already do a brain dump before sleep? Are you going to give it a try? Do you have a copy of the wind down journal and so do a brain dump as part of your daily page?

To me, the brain dump is one of the antidotes we can intentionally put in place against the busy and overwhelming world that can take a huge toll on our brains if we are not careful. 

And the state of our brains has a huge impact on our sleep of course. 

So, a simple strategy to incorporate into your wind down time. If you want to go deeper and learn more about how to effectively wind down before bed so you can enjoy better sleep, come and join us inside the evening wind down routine programme