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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 July 10, 2020

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

    We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

    So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

    Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

    What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

    Boundaries are limits

    —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

    Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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    Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

    Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

    Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

    How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

    Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

    1. Self-Awareness Comes First

    Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

    You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

    To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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    You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

    • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
    • When do you feel disrespected?
    • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
    • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
    • When do you want to be alone?
    • How much space do you need?

    You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

    2. Clear Communication Is Essential

    Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

    Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

    3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

    Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

    That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

    Sample language:

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    • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
    • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
    • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
    • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
    • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
    • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
    • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

    Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

    4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

    Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

    Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

    Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

    We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

    It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

    It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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    Final Thoughts

    Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

    Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

    Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

    The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

    Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

    Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

    They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

    Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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