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How to Practice Guided Meditation for Sleep to Calm the Mind

How to Practice Guided Meditation for Sleep to Calm the Mind

Could sleep be the key to improving your mindset while awake? If you have difficulty sleeping and often wake up feeling tired, before you crawl out of bed and turn on the TV, try using a guided meditation for sleep.

The toughest thing about being a high-achiever is understanding how much sleep you should get each night. Studies say an adult between the age of 18-65 should receive 7-9 hours of sleep.[1] I am willing to wager this is something you have heard before. I am also willing to bet even though you knew how much sleep you should receive each night, you are not actually sleeping that much.

You probably have a ton going on during the day, and late at night is the only time you have to catch up on your work. You may even try to get some sleep, but you find yourself lying in bed thinking about something else you could be doing.

Sleep can seem like the most unproductive thing you do each day but that is simply not the case. If you want to improve your mindset while awake, using a guided meditation to help you sleep is a great place to start.

Benefits of Guided Meditation for Sleep

Our brains conduct measurable electricity, which we call brainwaves. The four brainwaves are alpha, beta, delta, and theta.

Your alpha waves are where your focus, emotions and ability to relax are located. Your beta waves house your ability to concentrate, as well as your anxiety and fight or flight response. Your delta waves are associated with deep and dreamless sleep, while your theta waves are where you dream. As your mind relaxes and your mindset deepens, you will pass through the different brainwaves.

And here’re the benefits of guided meditation for sleep:

1. Reduces Stress

Insomnia does not cause all stress, but people who find themselves dealing with stress on regular basis can have insomnia. If you can efficiently manage your stress, you can effectively manage your difficulty sleeping as well.

As your guided meditation brings you into a deeper state of relaxation, your brain wave activities will slow down. Studies show that meditation can help reduce and remove symptoms of stress, emotional irritability, and depression by as much as 31%.[2]

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By helping you become aware of your feelings, meditation allows you to detach yourself from them. By detaching yourself from your feelings and emotions, you can free your mind to help you sleep. This in-turn empowers you to realize that your emotions do not define you, nor do your emotions control you.

How would you like to wake up feeling invigorated by the fact that you do not have any stress or anxiety weighing on you?

2. Engage in New Experiences

Meditation is the process of accessing your subconscious mind. Once there, you can implant your intentions, thoughts and goals into your imagination and experiences. Since your mind does not recognize the difference between imagined and real events, the imagined experiences are real to your mind. This gives you the ability to imagine yourself completing your tasks.

Each task you complete in your mind allows your mind to relax a little more. As your mind continues to slow down, you will find yourself more relaxed.

This will also provide you the added benefit of feeling like you know exactly what you need to do the next day. The more vivid your meditation, the more powerful the imagery. If you imagine yourself completing the task multiple times before you start it, you will improve your productivity and efficiency.

Think of it like putting a puzzle together and then taking it apart. Each time you see all the pieces come together, the easier it is for you to repeat the outcome.

3. Increase in Productivity

Can you recall a time when you were working so hard it felt like you were burning both ends of the candle? There was probably a point when you realized you were unable to solve even the simplest of problems. You just kept looking at your work and your mind was drawing a blank. Frustrated, you went to sleep, thinking the task was nothing short of impossible.

However, when you woke up the next morning, it was as if the answer came to you in a vision. You suddenly knew exactly you needed to do and you were able to complete the task in minutes.

So, what happened?

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Not getting the proper amount of sleep negatively impacts your productivity. When you do not get enough sleep, your focus and attention suffer. They are both exhaustible resources, which means the more you use them, the less times you can use them throughout the rest of the day.

When you get the proper amount of sleep, you allow your focus and attention to replenish.[3]. This allows you to start each day rejuvenated and ready to attack the day.

When you do not get the proper amount of sleep, you can suffer from poor memory, poor reaction times, and poor performance.

4. Improve Your Physical Health

In addition to the positive impact meditation can have on your stress and immune system, it can also have a positive impact on your physical health.

Meditation is known to increase testosterone levels. As meditation reduces your stress levels, your testosterone levels increase as a byproduct. When you have higher levels of testosterone, your body’s ability to produce muscle increases as well.

An additional benefit of a guided meditation for sleep is an improved quality of sleep, which will improve your body’s ability to recover after workouts.

5. Change Your Mind(Set), Literally

Meditation can increase the grey matter in the frontal cortex. Your grey matter is involved in muscle control and sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision making and self-control.

Studies show meditation not only can improve “higher-order cognitive functions, but also to alter brain activity”.[4]

As you sleep, your brain is busier than if you were awake. It spends your sleeping hours organizing and storing the information you absorbed throughout the day. Therefore, you often find yourself dreaming about the last thing you watched or read.

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By engaging in guided mediation to help you go to sleep, you can help filter through and organize your thoughts before losing consciousness.

How to Practice Guided Meditation

There are some misconceptions about meditation that we should go over before we continue.

You do not need to clear your mind to get started. In fact, your mind may feel like a noisy place, as you take a moment to complete the thoughts you had throughout the day.

There is also the misconception that you need to meditate in a certain position, for a certain amount of time. Neither of these are true. You can meditate anywhere — while sitting at your desk, on the couch, or in the lotus position. You can also meditate for as long as you want — 5 minutes, 15 minutes, or even an hour or two. This is completely up to you.

The power of meditation can be found in the frequency in which you meditate. This means you can meditate for 15 minutes multiple times a day, or you can meditate for 1 hour every day. You simply want to get into the habit of meditating.

Follow the Guide

Just as it sounds, guided meditation is when a guide walks you through a journey to accomplish a specific goal. The first step is to ensure you are calm and relaxed in both the mind and body.

Oftentimes, your meditation guide is going to play relaxing music to help you concentrate your attention. Traditionally, you can expect to hear birds chirping and waves crashing. However, if that is not relaxing for you personally, do not listen to it. There is no rule on what is “relaxing”. Relaxed is a personal feeling.

As you walk through your journey of peace and relaxation, you will want to make sure you are taking deep breaths to help you stay relaxed.

Breathing

Your breathing should be controlled, allowing you to focus. If you are focusing on your breathing, then anytime a thought enters your mind, you must visualize yourself placing that thought in a different room and closing the door.

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Only when you have done focusing on your breathing can you explore the thought.

Thoughts

If you are focused on your thoughts. Then you can engage each thought that enters your mind. Once your exploration is finished, you can properly place the thought on a shelf in your mind.

Think of this shelf like an book shelf, and each book has a thought. The shelf is organized in alphabetical order, so that you are comfortable releasing the thought as you clear your mind for bed.

Continue exploring your thoughts until they are each categorized on the shelf in your mind.

Concentration

You also have the option of simply focusing on one object when you meditate. This item should be small enough that you have to concentrate when you look at it.

The goal is to keep your eyes from wandering all over the place. Something as large as a chair for example will not work.

You are going to need to choose something as small as the tip of a pencil or the nose of a doll.

Your goal is to find something you do not mind focusing on and then choose a smaller aspect of that item to concentrate your attention.

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of guided meditation videos and audios you can find that will guide you through a variety of goals. Do not try one and say guided meditation is not for you. The benefits are there, it is up to you to find one that works for you.

Experiment with different voices, different goals, and different time lengths until you find one that works.

More Resources about Meditation

Featured photo credit: Yoann Boyer via unsplash.com

Reference

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Last Updated on November 12, 2020

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

If you find that you’re feeling tired all the time, it’s important to understand that it’s a common problem for many. With all of the demands of daily life, being tired seems to be the new baseline. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

If you’re tired of feeling exhausted, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re so tired and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

What Happens When You’re Too Tired

If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

  • Trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired.
  • Experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not.
  • Dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
  • Finding it more difficult to exercise.
  • Immune system may weaken, causing you to pick up infections more easily.
  • Overeating because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids, even when you’re not hungry.
  • Metabolism slows down, so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

Why Are You Feeling Tired All the Time?

Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Here’s a quick overview of each common cause of fatigue and feeling tired all of the time:

  1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep, restorative sleep.
  2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness, which could be triggered by numerous health problems, such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea, or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
  3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance, or emotional trauma. It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

You can learn more about some causes of fatigue in this video:

Feeling Tired Vs Being Fatigued

If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

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Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep. However, fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety, or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive[5].

Symptoms of fatigue include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low stamina
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Low motivation

These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness, but they usually last longer and are more intense.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. However, there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation, which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

Research suggests that most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night[6]. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

Get the right amount of sleep to stop feeling tired.

    The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

    Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

    Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[7]

    If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is the most likely reason you feel tired all the time. That is actually good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

    It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities, such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

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    4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

    Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

    1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
    2. Exercising regularly
    3. Using stressbusters
    4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

    After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

    I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

    Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

    • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy, including getting enough sleep.
    • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of physical activity a day, ideally for six days a week.
    • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
    • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

    The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight, and to achieve overall wellness.[8]

    Living Healthy

    Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested, and better overall.

    In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger. In fact, long-term sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase in Alzheimer’s later in life[9].

    As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

    Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

    1. Unplug

    Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. However, tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime. This won’t help you stop feeling tired all the time.

    Try to turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

    2. Unwind

    Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating, or taking an Epsom salt bath.

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    3. Get Comfortable

    Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

    Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep. Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

    Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed. If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[10]

    This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

    Exercise

    Many people know that exercise is good for them, but they just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

    That’s what happened in my case, but when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my sedentary lifestyle.

    I decided to start swimming because it was something I had always loved to do. Find an exercise you love and stick to it to stop feeling tired all the time. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training, and flexibility training during your daily 20-minute workout.

    If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try as it will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

    Attitude

    Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

    When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted, but there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued: Breathing.

    But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” (or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

    Here’s how you do Long-Exhale Breathing:

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    1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy.
    2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air).
    3. Hold your breath while you mentally count to 7 and enjoy the stillness.
    4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it).
    5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep breath.
    6. Repeat 3 times, ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system.

    This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

    When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[11]

    Nutrition

    Diet is vital for beating fatigue if you’re feeling tired all the time – after all, food is your main source of energy.

    If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels, which may lead to daytime sleepiness.

    Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming though. For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

    Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

    1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
    2. Add a healthy fat or protein to any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed.
    3. Fill up with fiber, especially green leafy vegetables.
    4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice, and corn.
    5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars, and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
    6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives.
    7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive, and nut oils.
    8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts.
    9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice.

    Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron, and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

    That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

    Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multivitamin or specific supplement.

    The Bottom Line

    If you are tired of feeling tired all the time, then there is tremendous hope.

    If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices. If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes discussed above.

    Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

    More Tips to Stop Feeling Tired All the Time

    Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
    [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
    [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
    [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
    [5] Very Well Health: Differences Between Sleepiness and Fatigue
    [6] Advanced Sleep Medicine Services: NEW Guidelines: How much sleep do you need?
    [7] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
    [8] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
    [9] National Institute on Aging: Sleep loss encourages spread of toxic Alzheimer’s protein
    [10] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
    [11] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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