The Savoring Technique For Sleep Could Help You Drift Off To Dreamland More Effortlessly

You aren't alone if you find yourself lying awake at night with stressful or anxious thoughts running through your mind. Perhaps you can't shake the anxiety you feel over an upcoming presentation at work, worry over replying to an email, or you find yourself kept up by the stress of bills, deadlines, or family life. Spiraling thoughts postpone falling asleep, prevent quality sleep cycles, and when you wake up in the morning you'll likely continue to contend with the same anxious and worrying thoughts. There's power in our thoughts and you might be surprised to learn that being deliberate about your pre-bed thinking may help you ease into slumber. 

It sometimes feels impossible to silence stressful thoughts when you're in bed and everything around you is dark and quiet. RNZ states that thoughts driven by anxiety or stress can turn into a rumination cycle that prevents quality sleep and has the potential to provoke acute insomnia, which occurs when someone is unable to fall asleep. To note, insomnia that lasts longer than three months can become a medical condition called chronic insomnia that should be assessed by a healthcare provider. For people who experience intermittent or acute insomnia, or who simply can't easily drift into slumber, the savoring sleep technique might be the magic fix you've been waiting for. The savoring technique focuses on taking control of your thoughts and telling yourself a happy anecdote, akin to a joyful bedtime story, that positively changes your mindset before bed.

Savoring is about appreciating your life

The savoring technique may very well be what you need to happily drift off into dreamland given its emphasis on using happiness as a guiding factor for dozing off. To embrace the savoring technique for effortless transitions into sleep, learning about why researchers believe the method works is important. The savoring technique is one of many mindfulness practices under the umbrella of Positive Psychology, which is the field of study that strives to optimize human success, flourishing, and happiness. By definition, the act of savoring is analogous with appreciating the positive aspects of one's life and the positive experiences they've had. A 2007 academic book by researchers Fred B. Bryant and Joseph Veroff determined the role of savoring in Positive Psychology and the human experience, specifically how savoring can use appreciation of happy experiences to increase well-being.

Savoring is the experience and intentional act of embracing joyfulness, being grateful for positive aspects of your life and enjoying the excitement of recalling happy memories. In the same way someone might say they're savoring a delicious dessert or an enthralling book, savoring life is the approach an individual takes when espousing both their memories and present experiences that evoke happiness. Savoring can also apply to future aspirations of happiness, particularly via daydreaming. Even if your life is overwhelmingly stressful, savoring positive moments and happy memories can boost your mood and wellness. The savoring sleep technique aims to calmly end the day by focusing on happy thoughts and memories.

Out with stressful thoughts, in with happy ones

It's no secret that most people want to experience happiness and joy in their lives, with happiness frequently being an objective that people focus their jobs, goals, and mindsets on. Happiness is often treated as an end goal, but the practices built into mindfulness, meditation, and gratitude-centered methods like the savoring technique focus on incorporating happiness in the present moment. The savoring technique is based on the reflection of happy thoughts and memories before bed as a means to fall asleep with ease, obtain better sleep, and generally feel better. The premise of the method is that consciously conjuring positive thoughts before falling asleep will override thoughts stemming from stress, anxiety, and worry. In prioritizing positive, happy thoughts before bed, the projected outcome is the ability to fall asleep sooner, effortlessly, and peacefully.

The savoring technique allows time to ruminate over stressful thoughts, just not at bedtime, reports The Wall Street Journal. Switching out worrying thoughts for positive ones first comes with switching up the timing of your rumination over anxious musings. Determine a time several hours before you go to sleep when you can give yourself approximately 15 minutes to think through stressful thoughts, then consciously say goodbye to those thoughts for the rest of the evening. Not letting negative thoughts dominate your mind after the set 15-minute worry session may sound easier said than done, but imagine it as a skill that you can strengthen and hone with time.

Document your worries

In order to embrace happy anecdotes before drifting off to dreamland, you need to eliminate focus on thoughts that elevate stress. Affording yourself a set time to focus on worrying thoughts is a good way to contain them to a specific part of your day, but it's likely that you'll need to take a few more steps to shake your worries off so they won't pop up when you tuck in for the night. A 2019 study published in JMIR Mental Health found a cyclical relationship between sleep and mood, meaning that experiencing a positive mood throughout the day will lead to better sleep followed by a positive mood the next day, and so on. The same relationship applies to experiencing a negative mood and poor quality of sleep, or vice versa. It's pertinent to the savoring technique to obtain a positive mood and consequently better sleep — you have to resolve your feelings of worry so that happy thoughts can take their place.

To process worrying thoughts, feelings, and emotions, keep a journal on hand to write out the bothersome sentiments. You can use a physical notebook or an app on your phone, but having some sort of journal to get your stressful thoughts out of your head and onto paper is one of the best ways to contain your thoughts, work through them, and consciously replace them with positive thoughts. You can physically counteract stressful thoughts by writing positive ones on the following page.

Recall positive memories

Once you have confined your stressful thoughts to a set time block several hours before you get ready for bed, the next step is really understanding the ins and outs of the savoring sleep technique. As an aside, don't beat yourself up if you have bothersome thoughts or worries pop up after you've written your stressful sentiments in your notebook for the day or spent your dedicated daily time allotment ruminating. Remember that you're human and offer yourself self-compassion and self-love for the worrying situations in your life. If you crawl under the covers at night to find a worrying thought dominating your mind, take a deep breath and gift yourself positive thoughts to replace the worries. The savoring technique is based on research findings of positive correlations between recalling happy memories at the end of the day and increased ease of falling asleep.

To properly practice the savoring technique, spend some time about an hour or two before going to bed deliberately recalling a positive memory from your life, which can be big or small. You might focus on a joyous and momentous milestone like a wedding or graduation, or conjure the memory of a fun day spent with friends. Do your best to recall as many details from the memory as you can, then describe the memory to yourself as vividly as possible. Practice this method before you fall asleep, such as during your winding down ritual, since vigorous focus on details can be counterintuitively stimulating. 

Incorporate rituals and routines

The savoring technique is itself a ritual that can be incorporated into your evening routine for positive results. Setting aside time to write out your worrying thoughts several hours before you go to sleep, followed by focusing on vivid details of positive memories approximately an hour before you tuck into bed are two habits that can combine for better emotional control, stress relief, and, of course, quality of sleep. Like muscles, these rituals need to be practiced regularly to become stronger and reap the benefits they have to offer. Similarly, just like how you might combine various exercises to strengthen different muscle groups during workouts, you should cultivate habits and routines that emphasize the rituals of writing out your worries and recalling happy memories pre-sleep.

Since the savoring technique is a form of mindfulness, aka your mind-body connection, understanding applicable tenets is a good start to building routines to complement the savoring technique. Though the savoring technique is effective on its own, the benefits are even better when paired with other mindfulness habits. Since the savoring technique's foundation is rooted in experiencing happiness in the present moment by consciously conjuring happy thoughts, activities like meditation, yoga, and tai chi can teach additional principles of awareness while strengthening your mind-body connection. About two hours before bed, swap out screen time for a warm bath, meditation, journaling, or other calming rituals that replace worrying thoughts with mindfulness practices rooted in appreciating and embracing the present moment.

Set intentions for savoring sleep

The inclusion of mindfulness habits, grounding rituals, and the savoring technique into your daily routine are ways to boost your mood and wellness without spending a penny. To get the most out of the savoring technique, mindfulness practices, and Positive Psychology, there are a few key things to keep in mind. Especially when it comes to sleep hygiene, which is the combination of your winding down process, bedtime routine, and sleeping environment, try to set intentions that will maintain your bed as a sacred space meant solely for sleeping. If you struggle with ruminating thoughts that keep you awake or have acute insomnia, the best thing to do is to get out of bed and move to another space in your home until you feel tired enough to return to bed. This way, your brain and body will learn to associate your bed with sleeping rather than active interests, including and especially your phone and other electronic devices.

To get the most out of the savoring technique and reap the benefits of effortlessly drifting off into dreamland, create a set space away from your bed to journal about your thoughts and conjure up happy memories. If possible, place your phone and other screens away from this intentional space, optimally not going back to your phone or laptop after you've spent time savoring a happy memory and getting yourself into a positive headspace, particularly since blue light from electronic devices can disrupt your body's natural sleep rhythm.