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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 November 5, 2019

    How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

    How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

    Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

    “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

    But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

    Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

    1. Always Have a Book

    It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

    Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

    2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

    We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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    Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

    3. Get More Intellectual Friends

    Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

    Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

    4. Guided Thinking

    Albert Einstein once said,

    “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

    Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

    5. Put it Into Practice

    Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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    If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

    In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

    6. Teach Others

    You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

    Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

    7. Clean Your Input

    Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

    I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

    Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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    8. Learn in Groups

    Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

    Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

    9. Unlearn Assumptions

    You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

    Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

    Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

    10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

    Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

    Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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    11. Start a Project

    Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

    If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

    12. Follow Your Intuition

    Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

    Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

    13. The Morning Fifteen

    Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

    If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

    14. Reap the Rewards

    Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

    15. Make Learning a Priority

    Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

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    Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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