How Meditation Can Help You Fall Asleep
I’m going to tell you how meditation can help you fall asleep…. Because meditation can often be overlooked in the Western world.
However, slowly as a culture we are beginning to bring light to the benefits of taking 20 minutes out of your day to just do… nothing.
If you’ve ever got into bed trying to fall asleep, but you’re stuck there with racing thoughts, worrying about a seemingly never-ending to-do list, then this could ruin the possibility of a great night sleep. Sleep disturbance affects millions of Americans and lots of people all over the world.
The next day after a poor night’s sleep can leave you feeling rough, lousy and can sap all of your energy. How can you be productive with your goals if you’ve not taken care of yourself?
However, the answer could well be mindfulness meditation – a practice which calms the mind by focussing on your breathing and being aware of the present moment.
A study, which appeared in the JAMA Internal Medicine back in 2015, investigated adults of 49 years of age and older who had trouble sleeping. Half of the control group were taught mindfulness meditation and other exercises designed to help focus on the present moment. The other half of the group completed a sleep education which taught them theoretical ways of improving their sleep.
Over the course of the study, both groups met up six times, once a week for two hours. In comparison with the group who embarked on the sleep education classes, those who took mindfulness meditation had less fatigue, insomnia and depression and the end of the six sessions.
In truth, the findings come as no surprise to Dr. Herbert Benson, director of the Harvard-affiliated Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine.“Mindfulness meditation is just one of a smorgasbord of techniques that evoke the relaxation response,” says Dr. Benson.
A term Dr. Benson coined in the 1970s, ‘relaxation response’ is a deep physiological shift within the body that’s the opposite of the stress response. The relaxation response helps clear the pool of cortisol in your body and helps ease off many stress-related problems such as depression, high blood pressure and emotional trauma.
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Therefore, mindfulness meditation involves focusing on your breathing and allows your awareness to be brought to the present moment without drifting into concerns. It helps you break the constant traffic of thoughts and helps trigger the relaxation response.
Dr. Benson has a recommendation for you – try mindfulness mediation ideally for 20 minutes in the day. “The idea is to create a reflex to more easily bring forth a sense of relaxation,” he says. This makes it easier to evoke the relaxation response at night when you feel like you cannot sleep.
Call to action:
To help you trigger the relaxation response, try these two easy steps.
Step 1: Focus on the background, such as subtle noises or your breath. This is a portal into the present moment.
Step 2: Relax and let go. Don’t judge yourself for how good you are at meditating – that’s not the point. Just be at comfort with yourself and accept whatever state you are in.
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