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Last Updated on December 8, 2020

How to Practice Guided Meditation for Sleep to Calm the Mind

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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.

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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 September 16, 2021

The Real Reason Why You Feel Exhausted (No Matter How Much You Sleep)

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The Real Reason Why You Feel Exhausted (No Matter How Much You Sleep)

I love my sleep. I always make sure to get at least eight hours each night. I’ll even leave parties early so I can get to bed at my usual time Yet, there are still mornings when I wake up feeling exhausted, even after a great night’s sleep. Whenever that happens, I run through a mental checklist, grasping at straws to explain to myself why I feel so groggy: why do I feel exhausted? Did I drink too much last night? Did I stay up past my usual bedtime? Did I hit snooze on my alarm twelve times? Eight hours of sleep a night shouldn’t result in chronic exhaustion, right?

Regardless of how much quality sleep you’re getting, you can still feel mentally exhausted, burnt out, run-down, worn through—whatever you want to call it. Most of the time, you’re so exhausted you don’t even have the time or the sense to see it clearly.

The answer is right in front of your face, but you haven’t had a chance to step back and analyze your situation. Maybe you hate your job, or you’re worried about paying rent, but you’re not actively thinking about it. How could you with all that’s going on? It’s planted in your subconscious, lurking there and eating away at your morale.

That worn-down feeling is a cumulative combination of unconsidered stressful circumstances—an amalgamation of past worries and future anxieties. We aren’t talking about your regular physical exhaustion from a long day’s work standing on your feet. This is purely in between your ears. You’re overstimulated, and it’s dragging you down. But what’s the real reason behind this brain fog? Why do you feel exhausted?

The first place to look at is stress,[1] which is the body’s natural response to a new challenge or demand. Where are you currently experiencing stress in your life?

Most pain, exhaustion, or emotional fatigue is the direct result of stress. Daily life is filled with tiny stressors—running to catch the morning bus, praying you’ll find a parking spot, or worrying about the leak in your ceiling at home. As these small stressors pile on uncontrollably, you realize you’re white-knuckling through the day.

Mental exhaustion,[2] simply put, is long-term stress. It’s having a day like the above over and over again for months on end until it weighs so much it finally drags you to the ground. You can’t keep living like this.

You may have experienced this in the form of a “mid-life crisis,” or even a quarter-life crisis where you stop and realize you never pursued the things you once hoped and dreamed of. Life passed you by in the blink of an eye. What happened to the “purpose” you once wanted to get out of life? Maybe you wanted to be an artist and all of a sudden, you look down and you’re forty-three years old sitting in a conference room surrounded by suits and boring charts.

You’re faking your way through life and you’re tired of putting on an act.

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Why Do You Feel Exhausted?

“Depression, anxiety, phobias… so many things can be disguised in a way that gives a facade of normalcy over a person’s internal struggles.” —Morgan Housel

There are many reasons why you may be feeling exhausted. There may be times when you had complete hours of sleep yet ask yourself after waking up: why do I still feel exhausted?

Why? It’s because there are other possible reasons for this exhaustion other than improper or lack of sleep. Here are some reasons why you feel exhausted.

1. High-Pressure Occupation (emergency responders and teachers)

Working in a highly stressful scene like an ER or police department is an obvious input for stress. Long hours on the job and making high-level decisions in crisis mode need to be followed by a period of rest, relaxation, and debriefing.

2. Working Long Hours

Consistently clocking in 12-14 hour days for weeks on end can drag you down. Many occupations require this type of work seasonally, like accountants during tax season. But when you’re spending that much time at week year-round and there is no end in sight, mental exhaustion can become chronic.

3. Financial Stress

For obvious reasons, being in troubled circumstances with your finances can cause long-term stress and constant worries, which lead to feeling exhausted. How can you enjoy life if you can’t afford to do the things you enjoy? No matter how much you sleep, you will still feel exhausted if something is troubling you at the back of your mind like financial problems.

4. Dissatisfied With Your Job

When you ask yourself, “why do I feel exhausted?” Try also asking, “Am I satisfied with my job?”

Many people slog through life in a job they hate. Whether it’s your unruly boss, the team that you work with, or the customers who you’re sick of hearing complaining, being stuck in a dissatisfying job can cause feelings of resentment in work and your personal life.

5. Clutter

Whether you’re naturally a messy person or life has become so frantic that you haven’t even had a chance to clean or organize, clutter plays a massive part in mental exhaustion. Having a clear workspace and a calm environment to walk into makes a difference in mental clarity. This can also affect your productivity and your attitude towards your job.

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6. Avoidance and Procrastination

When you feel exhausted, it may be because something at the back of your head is troubling you. You may have some responsibilities that you should be doing or have done but still have not. Putting things off too long will cause hidden stress to climb on top of you like a monkey on your back. Avoiding your responsibilities and procrastinating are some of the possible causes as to why you feel exhausted.

7. Living With Chronic Pain or an Illness

Going through life with stress is hard enough. Add on top of that something like chronic back pain or a congenital condition and it’s like taking care of two separate people for yourself. This can also cause feelings of resentment, bitterness, and irritation around people you love, even those who support and take care of you.

8. Death of a Loved One

Losing a close friend or family member is something everyone has experienced, and it never gets easier. Many people try to play tough and portray to their loved ones that they are okay and dealing with it just fine. But the reality is that it’s weighing them down.

Be honest with yourself about it, and have someone you can talk to. Experiencing your grief alone and not sharing it with anyone may be the reason why you feel exhausted.

9. Lack of Purpose

Life needs to have a purpose. Every individual has a purpose that is entirely unique to their circumstance. It can be guided by religion, occupation, or an ultimate life goal to strive towards, such as writing a book or owning a business. Without an ultimate purpose, it’s easy to let yourself slip into a depression that leads to mental exhaustion.

What Should You Do When You Feel Exhausted?

“When you’re struggling with something, look at all the people around you and realize that every single person you see is struggling with something, and to them, it’s just as hard as what you’re going through.” —Nicholas Sparks

1. Talk About It

It may sound obvious, but talking through these struggles with someone is a form of therapy in itself. Chances are, someone has been through the same type of thing that you’re going through right now. Don’t hide it. Open up and learn how others dealt with it. It’s more common than you think.

2. Find an Outlet or a Hobby

One way to help find joy out of a life of exhaustion is to come home to a hobby. Unwind from the workday by doing something you love that’s also a bit challenging. Learn how to play guitar, play video games with your kids, read a book, or learn new recipes to cook for your family. Take your mind away from whatever it is you’re worried about. Focus entirely on the process and get out of your anxiety.

3. Be Realistic

You can’t do everything. Look at your schedule, and be honest with yourself and the people around you about what’s possible for one person to do in a day. You can’t change the world alone. Enlist the help of others and don’t be too proud to ask. Putting the weight of the world on your shoulders may be the reason why you feel exhausted.

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4. Arrive Early

It took me years in life to realize how much being early can relieve stress. Waking up five minutes earlier gives me five minutes to relax and think if I’m forgetting anything before I head out the door. Leaving five minutes before I normally would for an event gives me five minutes to arrive and get a good seat, scope out the scene, or talk to someone and learn something about the place.

Being early allows you to be relaxed and completely comfortable as opposed to running through life in a hurry. Settle in before anyone else and have the mental edge that you’re prepared for anything.

5. Exercise More, Try Healthier Habits

Exercise is probably the last thing you want to do. But have you ever regretted a workout? One hundred percent of the time it makes you feel better and gives you the momentum to have a great day.

Try healthier habits. Go for a walk right when you get out of bed. Try a new vegetable once a week. Drink more water. Stand more. Replace dessert with fruit. If you drink ten cups of coffee a day, try to go one day a month without coffee. Healthier habits ultimately lead to a happier life in more ways than you think.

6. Journal

Similar to talking about your problems, journaling is an excellent outlet for not only getting the thoughts out of your head but also to clarify your feelings. As you write, you’ll realize you actually didn’t understand what you were thinking. Writing helps that. Do it often.

7. Take Care of Something

Get a pet. If you’re not ready for a dog, then buy a few plants to take care of. This takes the attention off yourself and on to something that relies on you for livelihood. It will help put everything in perspective and relieve stress and exhaustion.

8. Meditate

This is such an overly-used cure-all, but meditation really does help with clarity of thinking and developing a sense of calm in your life. Researchers found that meditation “decreased symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.[3]

It doesn’t have to be sitting with your legs cross, fingers in a circle, and saying “Oooommmmmm.” Meditating can take on whatever form you’re comfortable with. It can be taking a few deep breaths before you step out of your car, or it can be closing your eyes and thinking of your loved ones when you’re having a hard time.

Sometimes before bed, I’ll just close my eyes and envision a future I want for myself. I picture the people I love hugging me and saying “Congratulations.” For what? I don’t know, but I’m putting myself in the mindset to succeed.

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Final Thoughts

Dr. Alice Boyes, author of The Healthy Mind Toolkit:[4]

“The more you work on systems for reducing stress and excess decision-making, the more mental energy you’ll have.”

This is true in so many areas. Work on habits and routines that will eliminate the number of decisions you make. The more disciplined you are in these areas, the more freedom you will have to do the things you truly want and need. But also, understand how you are getting in your own way.

Author Tim Ferriss likes to ask himself, “How am I complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want?” or “What are the stories I tell myself that interfere with self-love?”

Take a look at the actions and routines you structure your life around. Are there small tweaks you can make to get out of your own way? What would this look like if it were easy? Sometimes, asking yourself questions like these can lead to surprisingly simple solutions and answer the question of “why do I feel exhausted?”

As I said, everyone is struggling in their own way. How you manage your stress may differ completely from someone else. By being vulnerable and understanding that you have the ability to overcome this exhaustion, you can begin to find meaning. Exercise consistent positive habits and the momentum will attract more positive momentum. Oh, and get good sleep!

More Tips to Help You When You Feel Exhausted

Featured photo credit: Hernan Sanchez via unsplash.com

Reference

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