Many of us face difficulties getting enough sleep, some of us have difficulties falling asleep no matter how hard we try. There are myriads of medications to treat insomnia, plenty of teas to drink to aid in falling asleep and even suggested bedtime routines to help you sleep better. Maybe you may have tried all of these methods with no avail, or maybe you are seeking out a way to improve the overall quality of your sleep. Turns out there is a scientific proven way to help you sleep better.
The newest practice in living a more intentional day is the act of practicing mindfulness. You may have heard this word buzzing around the internet, peppered in news articles, and lifestyle websites. But, what does it mean to practice mindfulness?
Mindfulness can be defined as the quality or a state of being conscious or aware of something. It can be seen as a, “moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgement.” A mindfulness practice promotes an acute awareness to one’s attention and mental “processes”, resulting in improved well-being, concentration, mental clarity, and peacefulness.
Mindfulness for better sleep
In a recent clinical trial published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, outlines a study of 50 adults with chronic sleep problems. The participants were assigned to two separate sleep programs in order to determine which group improved the quality of their sleep.
The first group of adults learned specific behaviors that could help them develop a bedtime routine. These behaviors included avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and sleep hygiene.
The second set of adults underwent a six-week program that taught mindfulness meditation led by a certified instructor.
Each group met six times, once a week for approximately two hours. When the two groups of participants were compared, the study concluded those who learned the practice of mindfulness had significant improvements in their overall sleep quality and fewer symptoms of fatigue, insomnia, and depression compared to those who were taught specific behaviors related to a bedtime routine.
How the Practice of Mindfulness Meditation Helps Us Sleep Better
Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on your breathing and bringing one’s attention to the present without letting the mind wander into concerns about the past or future. Often times, what keeps us up at night are the never endings tasks on our to-do lists, things we would like to accomplish the next day and so on. Mindfulness meditation helps you break thoughts flying around in your head to evoke a relaxation response.
The relaxation response is a physiological shift in the body that is the opposite of the stress response. When you’re in a relaxed state you can help ease stress related ailments such as insomnia, blood pressure, and pain.
How to practice Mindfulness Meditation for Better Sleep
1. Choose your Calming Force
This can be your breath, a specific sound, a positive word, or a phrase. Whatever you choose, focus on it. If it’s breathing, breathe in slowly and deeply and exhale slowly and deeply. If it is a word, a specific sound, or a phrase, repeat it over and over again in your head. Focus on it and let it lead you to a state of relaxation.
2. Relax and Let Go
It’s natural for the mind to wander, it happens. When you become aware that your mind has wandered elsewhere, come back to your breath, sound, positive word or phrase, and start over.
Sleeping is no joke. We all need it to function at an optimal level. Sometimes when life is hectic the quality of our sleep can be jeopardized. By using the techniques of mindfulness meditation at bedtime you can improve your overall quality of sleep and improve your health for years to come.