One of the most common enhancers of stress and poor health is a subpar sleep regimen. Particularly in adults, lack of sleep contributes to accelerated aging among many other problematic effects. One way to combat this issue is by implementing a consistent meditation practice. Though meditation can be used to address many aspects of mental and physical health, sleep is a primary area where trained mindfulness can be beneficial. This is a tool that takes consistent practice and patience over time. Once mastered, you will find a shift in your mental state that could prove to be truly life-changing.
What is meditation?
A practice that has been around since somewhere between 5,000 and 3,500 B.C., meditation is a mindful technique to train one’s attention. This is accomplished by applying focus to a single point, thought, or mantra for a set period of time. The results can provide clarity, calm, and stability to an otherwise cluttered and chaotic mind. There are countless methods to this practice, and finding the right one for you can take a little experimentation. Especially in the area of sleep support, aids such as music, candles, or incense may help or hinder depending on the individual. Generally, the ultimate goal is to render your mind as blank and still as possible. As you can imagine, when it comes to sleep, such an ability would prove massively helpful and enriching.
How does meditation aid improved sleep patterns?
There is quite a bit of research and data available to support the statement that meditation can greatly aid the amount and quality of sleep you’re getting. In addition to being a natural method that eliminates sleeping pills or drugs, it is also easy and budget friendly. Bedtime meditation reduces your heart rate, decreases blood pressure, and allows you to organize and process your thoughts. By removing mind-numbing habits and taking time to breathe, you give your body the opportunity to respond to its natural instinct to rest and recover.
Meditation before sleep benefits your daytime activity as well, aiding a consistent cycle between the time you wake and retire. Do remember, these results may not come after a session or two. As with many mental health practices, these benefits require consistency and concentration. You may even try guided meditations, which usually consist of white noise and a calm voice directing your attention to neutral mental images and steady breathing.
How do I get started?
Before you start any meditation practice, it is best to begin with the understanding that patience is required. Give yourself short periods of time at the beginning. About 3-5 minutes is a great starting point. If you’d like to use sensory aids such as soft noise or music, relaxing smells, or even stress balls for a physical outlet, you absolutely may.
To start, find a location in your home that is peaceful and quiet. You may sit or lie down, although if this is a sleep-enhancing practice, lying down is probably best. It helps if you are already prepared for bed, which means completing any hygienic bedtime routines beforehand. Close your eyes and listen to your breathing. The key is to breathe slowly and deeply, focusing all of your attention on the circulation of your breath. As thoughts pop up in your mind, do your best to acknowledge them as briefly as possible and then refocus your attention on the breathing. In the beginning, intrusive thoughts will be regular and loud. In time, you will find it easier and easier to make your mind a less busy space.
A healthy sleeping aid
The truth is, though meditation can impact your health in so many positive ways, using it to get 8 hours of sleep including other sleep quality improvements may be the best place to start. Sleep is vital to a healthy mind and body, making it paramount for you to get enough of it. If you can perfect a meditative habit at the end of your day, chances are you will have an easier time utilizing mindful focus in other areas of your life, as well.
Meditation has been around so long that you could spend weeks researching methods tailored to learning, performing, traveling, and so much more. Start with small chunks of time in a quiet environment that allows you to still your thoughts. In addition to being cost effective and scientifically supported, it is an organic way to take care of yourself. Stop tossing and turning when you retire for the day by using meditation to encourage improved sleep.
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