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Supercharge Your Sleep by Meditating Before Bed

Supercharge Your Sleep by Meditating Before Bed

No matter the time of day, the benefits of meditation vary from physical, to mental and emotional. From improved focus to lower stress levels, meditation has grown to become an incredibly popular health and wellness practice that can transform your life.

Sleep problems like insomnia are an epidemic, but they are rarely addressed to the extent they should be. As a society, we’ve become blind to the critical effects sleep has on our health and well-being. While we wouldn’t think of going a day without so-called essentials like coffee, going a night without sleep is not considered a big deal.

As we become desensitized to sleep deprivation, the lack of rest still impacts our bodies in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. From heart disease to obesity, significant amounts of over- or under-sleeping have clearly been linked to disease. Luckily, meditation is a key component to healing from disrupted sleep cycles.

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A groundbreaking study by the University of Massachusetts Medical School revealed that 58% of insomniac participants showed significant improvements from meditation. An astounding 91% of those on medication were able to reduce the dosage or stop the drugs completely. After several months, more than half of the participants reported that they were maintaining a better sleep cycle, showing that meditation is a great long-term tool for combating insomnia.

How Meditation Improves Sleep

There are a few key ways meditation impacts sleep. The most obvious point we often hear about is how meditation soothes stress. But to be more precise, meditation soothes stress because it activates our autonomic nervous system, allowing for better sleep, stronger digestion, and deeper breathing.

Due to the development of today’s fast-paced culture, the human nervous system has begun to show signs of dysfunction, going into survival mode far more often than is healthy or necessary. Thus meditation is equivalent to a human “reset” button that puts us back into our natural physiological state.

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meditating before bed

    Another factor research has shown is that meditating before bed preserves Slow Wave Sleep, or the deepest stage of non-REM sleep. This is a common problem area for those over fifty years old. So what can we do to boost the chances of a peaceful and uninterrupted sleep every night?

    How Should You Meditate Before Bed?

    Meditating before bed can look different for each individual, depending on your preferences. Some prefer guided meditations, where a narrator’s soft and soothing voice carries you through to physical relaxation and eventual sleep. Others prefer playing meditative music or binaural beats to relieve the mind and achieve deeper states of calm.

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    Luckily, you can eliminate the confusion of not knowing how to start by meditating online. There are countless free resources to experiment with, from ancient Buddhist techniques to modern variations.

    One of the most grounding practices you can perform before bed is a guided Vipassana meditation. This style of meditation is especially useful for those with overactive minds, anxiety, or the general feeling of being ungrounded. The word Vipassana means to have insight into the true nature of things.

    Beginners may feel as though it is the first time they can sense their physical bodies or notice the room they are in. In this sense, Vipassana silences the worry and mental clutter of the day, replacing it with the simple awareness of what is actually happening in the moment.

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    So how is it done? This technique will have you focus on one or two things at a time – such as your hand, the sound of your breath, or the blank view you see with closed eyes. Regardless of the focal point, these meditations calm the nervous system, allowing for the enhancement of REM sleep. This may be especially helpful to those who get a full night’s sleep, but still seem to wake up feeling fatigued each morning.

    Before even getting started with a meditation habit, it’s wise to cultivate a general evening routine. This will prepare you for meditation so that you don’t have to abruptly make the switch from a chaotic and busy day to a quiet and relaxing night. Try adopting just a few habits every evening, such as turning your phone off, journaling, or making some hot tea as you wind down and transition to sleep. In just a few days, with practice, you may notice a huge shift in your ability to get calm and stay calm throughout the night.

    Featured photo credit: Take Back Your Health Conference | Flickr via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2020

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

    Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

    1. Exercise Daily

    It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

    If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

    Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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    If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

    2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

    Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

    One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

    This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

    3. Acknowledge Your Limits

    Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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    Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

    Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

    4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

    Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

    The basic nutritional advice includes:

    • Eat unprocessed foods
    • Eat more veggies
    • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
    • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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    Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

      5. Watch Out for Travel

      Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

      This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

      If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

      6. Start Slow

      Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

      If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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      7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

      Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

      My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

      If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

      I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

      Final Thoughts

      Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

      Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

      More Tips on Getting in Shape

      Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

      Reference

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