Do you ever find yourself lying in bed at night with your head spinning, struggling to fall asleep? Here is a simple nightly ritual that may just help you stop the spin and get the rest you need.

First, we need to start by understanding why our brain spins. Why do we immediately flip to the next chapter in a book or hit “Next Episode” on Netflix? Suspense. The need to know what happens next.

Suspense is generated by uncertainty. Writers and TV producers understand that if they leave us hanging, we will feel a need come back to find out what happens. In our mind, what we call worry is often uncertainty; our brain, trying to process our concerns about what will happen in a certain dynamic, situation, or circumstance.

  • What will happen with X project?
  • How will I possibly get everything done this week!
  • Is my loved one going to be ok?
  • My boss seems mad at me… did I do something wrong?
  • What if I don’t get the promotion?
  • How will my presentation go tomorrow?

So how do we stop the spin? When your mind is spinning, it is trying to process a question. A question means there is a piece of information missing. In many cases, we cannot immediately answer our questions, but what we can do, is commit to a follow up step. 

Steps to deal with Uncertainty and Spin:

  1. Identify what information is missing, and who may have that information.
  2. Identify and commit to the next step to find answers.
  3. First, identify the points of uncertainty/the questions you’re trying to answer.
  4. Act.

For Example:

Uncertainty/Question: Is my boss upset with me for the report I sent yesterday?
Missing Information: My boss’s opinion of my work.
Follow up Action: Tomorrow at 9am, I will email or call my boss to get his/her feedback on the report.
Act: 9am you email or call your boss.

Does this resolve the problem or concern? No, of course not, but it commits to an action to resolve the problem or answer the question, freeing your mind to stop processing it as uncertainty and allowing your mind to rest.

Nothing is certain, but the enemy of uncertainty is awareness; planning, preparation and action. All we can do is take steps to try to manage the uncertainty.

Follow Up Action:

Here is a simple process I have personally found useful to help me keep work at work and out of my head when it is time for bed. If you have the habit of bringing your to do list to bed with you at night, try this process and see if it helps you switch off and disconnect.

How to keep the Uncertainty at work:

  1. Before leaving the office, make a to do list for the next day.
  2. Identify the top three things you need to get done the following day, and the steps you will take to get them done and when you will get them done.
  3. Close your computer.
  4. Before bed, shift your mind into mental positive by taking out a pad of paper and writing down 5-10 things you’re proud of, or grateful for.
  5. Put your phone on the other side of the room and out of reach and go to slee


  • Christopher Littlefield

    International Speaker, Employee Appreciation Expert and the Founder

    Beyond Thank You

    Christopher Littlefield is an International and TEDx Speaker specializing in Employee Engagement. He has trained thousands of leaders around the world how to understand what their people really want and need to be at their best. His clients include Accenture, Boston Medical Center, Lebanese Postal Service, Reserve Bank of Australia, Novartis-Sandoz, Salesforce, the U.S. Army, United Nations, and more.  His work has been featured in Forbes, New York, Mindful, and British Psychologies Magazines, and profiled in Harvard Business Review.