Meditation helps improve physical and emotional functioning. It provides stress and pain relief and decreases symptoms of depression, anxiety, and migraines. Meditation also can help you sleep. Because many people don’t get enough rest, meditation for sleep is an essential tool for promoting healthy rest.
The Importance of Sleep
Sleep is critical to well-being. Many people think of food, water, and shelter as essential basic needs. But sleep is a basic need too. Lack of sleep can cause health problems and cognitive impairments, but people tend to view rest as unimportant.
Many Americans lack proper sleep. Experts recommend that the average adult get seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Despite this recommendation, 40% of U.S. adults get less than seven hours of sleep per night. Inadequate sleep can lead to physical issues like elevated blood pressure and increased stress hormones. It also can make your body less sensitive to insulin, which can result in diabetes.
Sleep deprivation also can affect the brain’s ability to learn and recall information, resulting in impairments to memory and concentration. In addition, lack of sleep can make it more difficult for the brain to absorb more information, making learning a challenge.
Consistent lack of sleep leads to impairments in judgment and decision-making and decreases cognitive performance. Lack of sleep can make you more impulsive. This impulsivity can lead to risky behaviors you may not have engaged in after a full night’s rest. Sleep deprivation can increase your expectation of reward. These increased expectations are why you may take more significant risks than usual.
Meditation for Sleep
Meditation is a way to clear your mind and reduce stress. It also can lower your blood pressure and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Some types of meditation can help you to stop worrying about tomorrow and stop ruminating on yesterday. These kinds of worries can contribute to sleep problems.
It is especially likely to contemplate at bedtime because you’re still after being active all day. When you’re busy during the day, it’s easier to keep these thoughts at bay. However, it can be challenging to clear your mind and be restful when you finally become still. Meditation can train you to be in the present moment instead of caught up in those worries. Being present is a skill called mindfulness.
Like limiting screen time and sticking to a schedule, sleep hygiene can help you get a good night of rest. Meditation for sleep is a valuable tool for getting healthy, quality sleep.
Benefits of Meditation on Sleep
Meditation improves your relaxation response which can help you to unwind faster and be ready to rest. Sleep meditations can also influence healthy sleep.
Meditation can have many positive effects on your mind and body. These are important for ensuring restful sleep.
Benefits of meditation on sleep include:
- Increases melatonin (a hormone that tells your body it’s time to sleep)
- Increases serotonin (a chemical that stimulates the parts of the brain that control the sleep-wake cycle)
- Reduces heart rate (important for heart health and preparing the body for rest)
- Decreases blood pressure (lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke)
- Activates the parts of the brain that control sleep so that you can rest easier
Types of Meditation for Sleep
There are various ways to approach meditation. One important aspect of meditation for sleep is to meditate in bed. It would help if you also established a meditation routine that changes your mindset during the day. Having a rested mind will help you sleep better at night.
Meditation for sleep is guided or unguided. Guided meditations are when another person (someone present or on a recording) leads you through a meditation. They tell you how and when to breathe, relax specific parts of your body, or use guided imagery, such as imagining you are on a beach to help you relax. Unguided meditations involve deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation — tensing and relaxing each muscle group and breathing into areas that hold tension.
Common meditation techniques for sleep include:
- Breathing Exercises. Regulating your breath by taking slow, even breaths in and out can help you slow your breathing and prepare for sleep.
- Mindful Body Scanning. This technique can be progressive muscle relaxation or a simple scan through your body for tension. You also might notice parts of your body by wiggling your fingers and toes, paying attention to how air moves across your body, or noticing how your clothing moves against your skin as you breathe.
- Visualizations. Imagining yourself in a place that brings you peace, like on a beach, can promote relaxation. You might imagine what the sun feels like on your skin, how the sand feels beneath your toes, how the ocean waves sound, whether you hear seagulls in the background, and you may think about smelling the salty air.
- Gratitude. Many sleep meditations focus on gratitude, loving-kindness, self-love, and compassion for others. These can shift your mindset to a more positive, loving, and accepting one.
- Counting. To calm the mind and distract from worries, you may use counting in a sleep meditation. One counting technique is 4-7-8 breathing. You breathe in for a count of four, hold for a seven-count, and breathe out for an eight count. Repeating this pattern for a few cycles can calm your mind and help you forget about distractions.
- Silence. You use silence in mindfulness meditations that focus on the present moment. When a thought comes up, you accept it without judgment and put it aside, returning to a focus on your breath.
- Movement-based Meditation. You can use mindful movement practices like light stretching, Tai Chi, or restorative yoga postures during meditation to promote relaxation.
- Retracing Your Day. A review of the day may help calm your mind and allow you to leave it behind you. This review can help you power down before beginning a breathing exercise or guided meditation for sleep.
Not every technique will work well for you, and that’s okay. You can try something different until you find the ones that work best for you.
Meditation at Integrative Life Center
Meditation at Integrative Life Center focuses on mindfulness techniques to help you stay in the present moment. Whether you’re worried about what will happen in the future or can’t stop thinking about the past, mindfulness can teach you to stay grounded in the present.
With mindfulness, you become more aware of your feelings, thoughts, and body sensations. You also learn to accept your thoughts without judging them, an essential skill for regulating emotions, lowering distress, and learning to take responsibility for your actions.
This important coping skill can be helpful with all types of recovery, from addiction to depression and anxiety, and of course, for sleep. Please contact us for more information on how we can help you train your mind to rest.