Hi guys! Today I want to talk to you about mind racing. Racing thoughts are a real bugger when it comes to sleep so let’s take a closer look at what they are and what we can do about them.
Racing thoughts tend to occur when we are sitting alone with our thoughts, in neuroscience we conceptualize this network of regions in the brain as the “Default Mode Network.”
The default mode network was first discovered by researchers using functional imaging (PET) to map task specific functions in the brain. They noticed when the subjects were in a passive state this collective group of brain regions would appear and disappear when they were asked to transition to performing specific tasks.
Some of the areas involved include the medial and lateral frontal areas and medial and lateral temporal areas. In reality there is way more complexity to the default mode network.
Neuroscientists think the default mode network plays a critical function in the brain involving scanning new and old memories and tagging and exploring important associations. In a sense, it is related to a function the brain performs in dream sleep.
As a sleep physician, racing thoughts tells me two things, this person has a lot going on – and their brain doesn’t have enough time to perform this function during the course of the day. As our attention becomes more and more in demand by social media, email, work, kids, we have less and less time to be alone with our thoughts to allow our brain to perform this critical function.
The next time you experience racing thoughts, let it be a message that you need to unplug and make time for this important function, which to put simply is called resting.
Check out my stories for an excerpt from the book, “When Brains Dream” elaborating on this topic.
What are your favorite ways to take a mental break or give your brain a rest?