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Last Updated on December 8, 2020

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.

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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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Published on June 21, 2021

5 Ways Alcohol Affects Your Energy Levels

5 Ways Alcohol Affects Your Energy Levels

From social gatherings, sporting events to religious ceremonies, people have been drinking alcohol throughout history. In fact, evidence suggests that cavemen intentionally fermented fruits and grains to make alcoholic beverages. Nevertheless, although we may never know exactly where, when, or how it all started, the simple fact remains that people all over the world continue to drink alcohol to this day.[1]

Initially, in moderation, alcohol can make you feel more outgoing, but in excess, it can essentially hold you back from wanting to go anywhere or be near anyone at all. So, before you got out and indulge in another glass of your favorite Zinfandel from New Zealand or perhaps try and cool off with an ice-cold pint of Guinness at the Irish pub around the corner, you may want to take the time to carefully consider some of the potential side-effects of drinking alcohol, especially how it can affect your mood, judgment, and energy levels.

As a professional addiction counselor and interventionist, I have worked with a lot of good people over the past twenty years who have found themselves doing a lot of bad and questionable things while under the influence of alcohol. Approximately 28% of all traffic-related fatalities in the United States involved alcohol-impaired drivers, and according to the World Health Organization, approximately 55% of perpetrators of domestic violence drank alcohol prior to the assault.[2][3]

Although each case may have a unique set of circumstances, many of the underlying factors leading to alcohol abuse remain the same. For example, most people who have experienced alcohol abuse issues started off by drinking recreationally—in other words, drinking once in a while and at specific events. Then, over a period of time and with continued use, they developed a tolerance for it, meaning that more and more alcohol was needed to achieve the desired effect, such as intoxication.

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Furthermore, given the impact of alcohol on the central nervous system with prolonged use, your body can actually become dependent on it to function, albeit dysfunctionally.

Many of my clients who have suffered from alcohol dependence have often reported that they needed to have a drink of alcohol just to get out of bed so that they could steady their nerves and get unstuck. As a result, alcoholics tend to spend a significant amount of time and energy making sure that an ample supply of alcohol is readily available, while at the same time, significantly reducing time spent engaging in more productive and healthy daily activities, such as work, personal hygiene, proper nutrition, exercise, and interpersonal relationships.

Concerning statistics aside, the reality is that alcohol use is not going away anytime soon. Prohibition is not coming back. Therefore, in my opinion, it is important to learn how to live with it rather than trying to vilify its presence or simply pretending that the problem does not exist, whether you are interested in having a drink or not.

With that being said and without trying to ruin anyone’s upcoming party plans, if you are focused on the importance of maintaining control over your mood, judgment, and level of energy, hopefully, you are also ready to take a closer look at how alcohol can affect your body.

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1. Alcohol Increases Risk of Depression

To start off with how alcohol affects the body, alcohol is classified as a depressant because it appears to reduce arousal and stimulation of the central nervous system. Although it may initially elevate your mood as it begins to interact with dopamine and serotonin receptors in the brain, over a period of time, with continued use and your emotional defenses down, you can end up feeling overwhelmingly depressed as the alcohol begins to deplete those chemicals from your brain, leaving you considerably more vulnerable to emotional distress.[4]

Similar to the chemical version of a self-destructive self-fulfilling prophecy, the more alcohol you drink, the more depressed you feel and, therefore, the less active you become as your energy level is depleted.

2. Alcohol Reduces Your Energy Level

There are a variety of ways in which drinking alcohol reduces your energy level. First and foremost, alcohol initially raises your blood sugar level, then as insulin is released into your bloodstream, your blood sugar level rapidly decreases, making you feel weak. Although you are taking in plenty of fluids when you drink alcohol, you will typically find yourself urinating more frequently as your kidneys are working overtime to flush the alcohol out of your body. This then leads to dehydration, which in turn depletes your level of energy as an overabundance of vital minerals and nutrients are flushed away.

Furthermore, alcohol consumption has been shown to reduce the level of melatonin in your body, which is a critical element in regulating your circadian rhythm, thereby interfering with your internal sleep-wake cycle. And without an adequate amount of rest, your endurance and stamina will decrease if your body is unable to recharge.[5]

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3. Alcohol Reduces Your Reaction Time

So, with all that being said, alcohol does not actually make you feel depressed simply by drinking it, but rather alcohol slows down messages between the brain and the body. It essentially reduces your reaction time.

At first, you may feel more active and engaged, then after continued drinking, you may begin to feel more lethargic and unbalanced as you depress your central nervous system with continued consumption. Recent studies have shown that alcohol has actually been directly linked to changes in brain chemistry and composition with little or no medicinal benefit at all.[6]

4. Alcohol Reduces Your Inhibitions

Nevertheless, not all of the effects of alcohol are necessarily bad, at least not right away. In moderation, alcohol has been known to reduce your inhibitions in relation to your declining reaction time. In other words, with alcohol, your brain may not necessarily have enough time to effectively process anxiety that you might have otherwise experienced in a similar situation without it, for example, meeting new people at a party or perhaps even spending time with your in-laws. Unfortunately, however, reducing your inhibitions can also reduce your ability to know when it is okay to have another drink, which can ultimately lead to lapses in judgment.

5. Alcohol Impairs Your Judgment

Recent studies have shown that prolonged alcohol use can actually alter the structure of the brain, especially in the area of the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for judgment and reasoning. As a result, there is a strong correlation between alcohol abuse and making bad decisions, such as driving under the influence and drinking on the job.[7] Furthermore, alcohol is considered a gateway drug because using it can lead you down the path to using even more potent mood-altering substances since your judgment is impaired.

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Additionally, given the fact that most of us are hard-working people who need to provide both financially and emotionally, we have to be able to move swiftly and with precision when the opportunity presents itself, while at the same time, we have to be able to provide love and attention to the people that we care about. So, without actually avoiding a fun night out with your friends, you might want to simply reconsider ordering another cocktail at the club, especially if you want to stay far away from all of the potentially unpleasant consequences associated with poor judgment, such as legal, financial, medical, and family issues.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, most people who have a drink every so often will more than likely never experience any serious consequences associated with alcohol abuse. Some may not even be aware of how alcohol affects their bodies. Nevertheless, educating yourself on the potential impact of regular alcohol use may, in fact, prevent that from actually happening.

So, whether or not you condone or condemn drinking adult alcoholic beverages, the reality is that alcohol has been around for thousands of years, and there are no plans that I am aware of to stop making it as it continues to be served all over the world at family gatherings, sporting events, religious ceremonies, or almost everywhere you look. Nevertheless, given the fact that drinking alcohol can directly impact your mood, judgment, and energy level, I firmly believe that everyone should be aware of the effect that it can have on you before consuming it.

Although alcohol can reduce your inhibitions, making you feel just a little more outgoing and engaging, with an initial artificial boost of energy, over time, and with continued use, it can lead to bouts of depression as it impairs your judgment and depletes your energy level.

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Featured photo credit: Taylor Brandon via unsplash.com

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