Does Meditation Help with Sleep?

sleep-meditationThere’s no getting round it, a good nights sleep is essential for nearly everyone on the planet. Most of us should be getting 7,8,9 hours sleep on a regular basis. For the younger ones it’s even more. I’m personally not the best sleeper, so any edge I can get is a big fat bonus! So here’s my question. Does meditation help with sleep?

A few things you may not know about sleep

  • Dependent on age we humans spend (or should!) one third of our lives asleep.
  • According to some studies, sleep deprivation will kill you more quickly than food deprivation.
  • Sleep is just as important as regular exercise and a healthy diet.
  • Exercising is good for sleep but is definitely not just before going to bed.
  • We naturally feel tired at two different times in the day: around 2:00 AM and 2:00 PMmeditation-help-sleep

Why is sleep good for you?

When we sleep, our consciousness is altered, sensory and muscular activity is reduced and our interaction with the outside world is vastly reduced. In other words everything is getting a bit of a rest!

Did you know that sleep can help keep your heart healthy? Sleep deprivation can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes and coronary heart disease. The body’s sympathetic nervous system – responsible for our “fight or flight” response is thought to be stimulated by waking up too often. When our bodies physically react in this ‘sensing danger’ state our blood pressure surges- too much waking up too often and our body struggles to compensate for this rise and our levels can remain higher than expected. The risk factor for stroke and coronary heart disease is increased with high blood pressure.

As I mentioned before, sleep gives your body the time it needs to rest and repair. A good nights sleep can help to keep your immune system in great shape and keep those nasty germs at bay. Ever noticed when you’re unwell you want to sleep more? Sleep supports the proteins and cells of your immune system to detect and destroy any unwanted invaders your body might come into contact with, like the common cold – and sleep helps remember them too, so you’re better armed to fight those same germs off the next time. So don’t beat yourself up the next time you’re not feeling well with so much to do but all you want to do is sleep – it’s essential you do!

How about some help with maintaining a healthy weight! A lack of sleep can make it more difficult to control your appetite and cause you to gain weight. The body needs more energy if we’re awake longer and when tired we are more likely to choose unhealthy foods, particularly those high in sugar. Sleep has a big part to play in regulating how our bodies use food for energy, so getting enough sleep might just help control our weight.

And it’s not just the physical side, a good nights sleep can improve our mental health too, not to mention a reduction in our overall stress levels. Those pernicious stress hormones like Cortisol can keep you awake more than you’d like whereas a good night’s sleep can have the opposite effect and relax the systems in your body.

Add to the list, improved memory, improved mood, better relationships…… you get the picture!improved-mood

Ok – so just how does meditation help with sleep?

I couldn’t put it better than the Sleep Foundation who say: “Not only can meditation improve your sleep quality, but it may also help reduce blood pressure and ease pain, anxiety, and depression. It’s easy. Meditation is an accessible, budget-friendly practice that everyone can try—insomnia sufferers of different ages respond well to the practice, including older adults.”

What keeps most of us awake at night are worries – and we have lots of them. Worry affects our mental state, physically tenses our body up and can alter our mood. Not the best state to be in as our head hits the pillow! Taking a few minutes to meditate just before bed can create the right environment for a peaceful night of rest focusing on the present moment and not the accumulated concerns of the day.meditation-sleep

A simple way to meditate that will help you sleep.

So, there are several ways to meditate but 3 broad categories. Mindfulness, Concentration or Focus Meditation and Guided Meditation. Concentration or Focus Meditation is where you simply focus on one thing – it could be naked flame of a candle or the repetition of a mantra like “I am calm”. Guided meditation is just that – someone else leading you through a meditation process.

Might I suggest a Mindfulness Meditation to begin. This is probably the most popular form of meditation and involves simply paying attention to your body. It could be awareness of the sound of your breath or the feeling of the floor underneath you. If you’re not familiar with Mindfulness don’t worry when your mind wanders back to events of the day, just observe them, let them pass by without judging yourself and come back to your focus. So here goes:

1. Sit upright in a chair or cross-legged on the floor and rest your hands on your lap. If you find this uncomfortable don’t worry, just get yourself in a comfortable position otherwise you’ll be distracted even before you start. You may even want to sit in bed so you’ve less of a commute to sleeping quarters!!!

2. It will help to close your eyes.

3. If your place space is free from external noise, you may sit in silence or chose some relaxing music to play in the background. If sounds from the outside world disturb your quiet, music will really help.

4. Prepare to meditate. Take a few slow deep breaths, notice any tension areas around your body and try to relax them. Think of 3 things in your life to be thankful for and smile while your doing so. Gratitude is so effective in this process.

5. Now, just be still, focus on your breath or maybe your feet touching the floor and enjoy the calm and restful state you’re in. When the thoughts of the day come into your mind – and they will – acknowledge them and let them pass by.

6. Try this for just 5 or longer if wish. Set a timer on your phone so that the clock is not a distraction. When you’re done, get into bed and reflect on how it felt and drift off to a wonderful nights sleep.

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Sleepy final thoughts

There are so many ways to get the most from sleep with a little meditation and the method above is just one suggestion that I know works for me. We all need our sleep to rest, relax and rejuvenate our mind, body and spirit and as the saying goes “every little helps”. So to answer my question – does meditation help with sleep? – Try it and find out!

Thank you for taking time to read this article and if you have any experiences, thoughts or comments, I’d love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below. Have a fantastic day!

All the best,

Tim

Founder of magicmotives.com

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