Have you ever laid awake in the middle of the night? Trying your best to usher in sleep but failing. You just lie in bed thinking about why you can’t succeed at a seemingly simple task. A feat that most people achieve without having to exert themselves at all. Yet, here you are, struggling to shut your mind down.
If you do find yourself in such a situation, don’t fret. Studies indicate that at least 1 in 3 people have mild insomnia and have trouble sleeping. So at least you’re not alone!
This article will help you understand how Meditation can help in improving your quality of sleep and remedy insomnia.
Many assume that sleep is simply the shutting down of the mind and body. However, this is not true. During our sleep, the mind and the body undertake various essential processes. Our mind takes this time to process important information that we receive throughout the day. Our body grows muscle, repairs tissues, and releases hormones such as the growth hormone, which is essential for the growth and development of a person. Thus, a good night’s sleep goes a long way in the health and wellness of a person.
An average adult needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep, whereas teenagers need 8 to 10 hours. Younger children require 9 to 11 hours of sleep. For young children, a night of proper sleep is critical for their growth and development.
Unfortunately, most adults are not able to get the required amount of sleep. A poll by the global analytics firm Gallup revealed that over 40% of Americans sleep for less than 7 hours every night. It also showed that 30% of people have difficulty falling and staying asleep at least a few times per month. With the increasingly hectic lifestyle of people today, sleep has taken a backseat. It often ranks quite low on the list of people’s priorities. Along with that, the popular culture notion of “sleep is for the weak” or “you snooze you lose” has added to people neglecting sleep.
Technology has also aggravated the existing issue. We are all guilty of mindless scrolling or endless binge-watching. I can’t be the only one who gets tempted by the most mindless videos at night, causing me to delay sleep. Even if you are able to free yourself from the neverending entertainment void of the internet, it can still harm your sleep. The majority of us use some form of technology before going to bed. The Sleep Health Foundation has reported that the bright light from mobile phones, tablets, computers, and televisions blocks the release of the sleep hormone melatonin. This makes it difficult for people to fall asleep.
How can Sleep Meditation help?
The trouble with falling asleep is that often we cannot get our mind to stop thinking. The stillness of the body causes our mind to get tangled in a web of thought. This is where Meditation comes in. It is a relaxation technique that helps to calm the mind down. A well-rested mind leads the way towards a restful sleep. Therefore, meditation before sleep can help you unwind and reduce insomnia.
Meditation before sleep leads to psychological changes in a person. These changes help you relax while the body is resting. Meditation lowers the heart rate by triggering the parasympathetic nervous system. It also lowers the breathing rate in our bodies, thus improving sleep quality in a natural way.
Meditation has various other benefits, which include an increase in melatonin (the sleep hormone) and serotonin (precursor of melatonin). It also reduces heart rate and blood pressure. In turn, these changes pave the way for a night of healthy sleep. Therefore, adopting meditation in your daily schedule will promote your general wellbeing.
Types of Mediation
There are various types of meditation. You should explore what kind of meditation is best suited for you in order to get the best results. The following are some of the common ways in which meditation can be done.
1. MINDFUL MEDITATION
Mindful Meditation or mindfulness is the physiological practice of focusing on the present moment. It mainly includes breathing practice and awareness of body and mind. You don’t need any sort of preparation for mindful meditation.
The JAMA Internal Medicine conducted a study where they compared the sleep patterns of two groups of middle-aged adults. One group was taught meditation and the other was given a class on how to improve sleep. The group that practised meditation showed less insomnia and fatigue. They had healthier and deeper sleep.
2. GUIDED MEDITATION
Guided Meditation is the kind of meditation where another person guides you through your meditation. It may be via the written text, sound recording, video, audiovisual media, etc. Guided Meditation is often supplemented by music, imagery, relaxation and journaling.
In guided meditation, a narrator or teacher explains the working of the mind and how it responds to meditation. They also explain meditation techniques and how to adopt those in day to day life.
3. BODY SCAN MEDITATION
In Body Scan Meditation, you focus on each part of your body. By mentally scanning yourself, you bring awareness to every single part of your body, noticing any aches, pains, tension, or general discomfort. Body Scan Meditation is a great way of releasing tension from the body. It helps identify the tension you may not even realize exists.
When performed daily, body scan meditation can have various benefits. These include reduced stress, fatigue, and insomnia.
In conclusion, there are various methods one can use to help improve sleep. However, few are as simple, natural, and cost-effective as Meditation for Sleep. Apart from reducing insomnia, meditation has various other benefits for the mind and body too. Therefore, it is a good habit to inculcate in our everyday lives.
That being said, we have to remember that Meditation alone can’t solve all the problems related to sleep. You have to create a regular sleep schedule and show restraint on the use of technology too.
What is the best meditation for sleep insomnia?
Meditation helps in slowing down the mind and therefore making it easier to sleep. There are various types of meditation you can practice. Some examples are -
Mindfulness meditation - This involves focusing on the present. It’s done by increasing your awareness of your consciousness, breathing, and body.
Guided meditation- This is when another person leads you through each step of meditation. They may instruct you to breathe or relax your body in a certain way. Or, they might have you visualize images or sounds. This technique is also known as guided imagery.
Body scan meditation - In this you focus on each part of your body. The goal is to increase awareness of your physical sensations, including tension and pain. The act of focusing promotes relaxation, which can help you sleep.
Cognitive shuffling - This is kind of like the updated version of counting sheep.
You should explore what kind of meditation is best suited for you in order to get the best results.
Can mindfulness meditation replace sleep?
Yes, but not entirely. You can cut out a little time from your sleep and replace it with meditation. The more you meditate, the shorter your sleep cycle When we meditate, we are resting the mind in what is generally quite a peaceful and relaxing place. Like sleep, meditation balances, repairs and heals the body in a number of similar ways, from boosting your Growth Hormone and DHEA, to reducing your stress hormone Cortisol. However, you cannot entirely avoid sleeping.
How does meditation affect sleep?
The trouble with falling asleep is that often we cannot get our mind to stop thinking. The stillness of the body causes our mind to get tangled in a web of thought. This is where Meditation comes in. It is a relaxation technique that helps to calm down the mind. A rested mind leads the way towards a rested sleep. Therefore, meditation before sleep can help you to unwind and reduce insomnia.
Written by Tuhina Sahai
Tuhina Sahai is a law student studying at Symbiosis Law School, Pune. She enjoys meeting new people and making friends. She finds as much comfort in going on outdoor adventures as she does in sitting in her room with a book, sipping tea. She is an avid reader and enjoys the works of authors John Grisham, Khaled Hosseini, Paulo Coelho, Arundhati Roy, etc. She is passionate about music and art.
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