Written by The Sleep Help Institute
Many adults don’t sleep the recommended seven hours every night. Adequate sleep is needed for health and well being, and sleep deprivation can lead to an increased risk of conditions including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and mental distress.
One reason you may be losing out on sleep is the inability to slow down and relax. The stress you experience each day can make it difficult to let go and fall asleep at night. But meditation can help.
How Meditation Supports Sleep
Meditation offers the ability to calm your mind before bed. In a recent study, mindfulness meditation was more effective than sleep education for improvement of sleep habits.
Mindfulness meditation can trigger the relaxation response, which is effective for relieving stress. In meditation, you can stop racing thoughts and avoid thinking deeply about anxiety in the past or future.
In a study of yoga practitioners, meditative yoga showed promise for improved sleep. Although middle age participants who did not practice yoga showed a decline in slow wave sleep, meditative yoga practitioners did not show a decline and experienced higher quality sleep similar to younger participants. The study suggests the practice of meditative yoga can help retain quality sleep in middle age.
When you practice meditation before bed, you set the stage for sleep. It gives your brain a chance to slow down and enjoy the quiet while shutting out distractions.
Using Meditation for Better Sleep
If you suffer from sleep difficulties, meditation can help improve your sleep quality. Follow these tips to support healthy sleep by meditating.
- Try meditating for just 20 minutes a day. A recent study found participants with sleep disturbances were able to improve sleep quality with 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation each day.
- Meditate before bed. Meditation can be used for stress relief throughout the day, but it can be especially helpful for sleep when practised just before bed. Meditating can help you fall asleep by relieving the anxiety that may keep you up at night.
- Stay on task. Although you may be concerned about maintaining focus while meditating, it’s ok for your mind to wander as long as you get yourself back to the task at hand. Let go of thoughts of tomorrow, today, or yesterday.
- Don’t stress about sleep. It can be difficult to relax when you know you don’t have much time to get the sleep you need. Banish looking at the clock and avoid counting down the hours you have left to sleep. Instead, focus on relaxation and letting go so you can make the most of the time you have to recharge.
- Practice healthy sleep habits. Meditation can support better sleep, but it’s not a replacement for healthy sleep habits. You can’t expect good sleep to come from meditation if your sleep practices aren’t otherwise supportive of healthy sleep. Maintain a regular sleep schedule, even on the weekends, and go through the same bedtime routine each night. Make your bedroom a healthy sleep environment with by finding a mattress that’s right for your needs and the darkness, quiet, and cool air your body needs to sleep well at night.
And remember: “Breath is a wonder drug.” T.K.S Desikachar
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Related article: Relax Like a Boss: Stress Management Guide