Did you know that practicing meditation once a day can help you enjoy deeper, more restful sleep?
It’s not easy for everyone to fall asleep within a few seconds of lying on the bed. There are plenty of people who suffer from sleep disorders like insomnia and daytime sleepiness.
A study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine states that about 25 percent of Americans experience acute insomnia each year. Without receiving proper treatment, insomnia can lead to chronic health problems.
The good news is that 75 percent of the individuals who have insomnia can recover without developing persistent poor sleep or chronic insomnia. However, this is only possible with proper treatment and care.
Before your insomnia gets worse, it is imperative to take adequate measures to slow down or even reverse its adverse effects. This is where meditation for sleep come into play.
Most people who have insomnia or any other sleep disorder, resort to taking sleep-inducing medication like sleeping pills. Sleeping pills like Zolpidem or Zopiclone do help you fall asleep within minutes, but they are riddled with harmful side effects like daytime sleepiness and drug dependence.
This is why it is essential to incorporate healthy habits like meditation in your daily schedule. Meditation is not a hoax. It’s a science-backed method of relaxation and recreation.
Table of Contents
- Research on Sleep Meditation
- The Best Types of Meditation for Sleep
Research on Sleep Meditation
Mindfulness Meditation Helps Fight Insomnia and Improves the Quality of Sleep
A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine says that mindfulness meditation can not only help fight insomnia but can also increase your overall productivity.
Sleep deprivation leads to daytime sleepiness, tiredness, and fatigue. Hence, individuals who have insomnia are more likely to struggle to maintain energy and focus required at work. These are the facts acknowledged by researchers David S. Black, Gillian A. O’Reilly, and Richard Olmstead.
The three researchers mentioned above are some of the biggest proponents of mindfulness meditation as a non-medical treatment for insomnia. Moreover, in an experiment to prove the efficacy of mindfulness meditation as a treatment method for insomnia, they included 49 older adults who had trouble sleeping.
Half of them were given practical lessons on mindfulness meditation, and the remaining were asked to attend a general sleep education class. Participants in both groups were asked to practice the lessons taught in their respective classes.
After six weeks of training, the researchers concluded that those in the mindfulness meditation group had less insomnia, tiredness, and depression.
In conclusion, older adults can make the best of mindfulness meditation techniques as a short-term solution for insomnia. As long as they continue to practice the several breathing techniques taught in mindfulness meditation class, they will have no problems with falling (and staying) asleep.
Mediation Can Improve the Quality of Sleep in Younger Adults Too
In the above study, we saw how mindfulness meditation could help older adults deal with the harmful symptoms of insomnia. Similar research by the principal investigator Ramadevi Gourineni, MD, director of the insomnia program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Evanston, proved that practicing mediation regularly could also benefit those aged between 25 and 45 years.
In an experiment, Dr, Gourineni included 11 healthy subjects between the ages of 25 and 45 years with chronic primary insomnia. Two groups were formed. One group practiced Kriya Yoga (a type of mindfulness meditation), and another group — like in the earlier study — were given lessons on sleep education.
After two months, participants in the Kriya Yoga group showed improvement in sleep diary parameters like sleep latency, total sleep time, total wake time, wake after sleep onset, and sleep efficiency.
The Best Types of Meditation for Sleep
If you’re like most people, you probably will jump onto practicing any random “meditation for sleep” technique in the hope of getting some relief from insomnia. It is not your fault. There is a lot of misinformation about meditation out there.
You will be surprised to learn that, when it comes to mediation types, there are only a select few that are deemed beneficial for sleep.
Here are the most effective types of meditation for sleep:
1) Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is the art of learning how to be present in the moment. People who practice mindfulness are calmer and more relaxed than those who don’t. In our stressful lives, it is critical to take out a few minutes from our days to recover and unwind. Mindfulness meditation allows you to do just that.
Moreover, stress is found to be the biggest detriment to a night of good sleep. Stress can arise from work pressure, relationship trouble, or health issues. As humans, we all have to, at some point in our lives, deal with the above three problems. By meditating each day, you can eliminate the adverse effects of stress on your sleep health.
2) Loving-Kindness Meditation
Loving-kindness meditation is another technique that will help you sleep calmly and happily throughout the night. In some people, anger or resentment toward others or themselves can give rise to negative self-talk.
Negative feelings generally get intensified after sundown. This is where loving-kindness meditation comes into the picture.
According to a report by the University of California, loving-kindness meditation, when done just 15 minutes daily, can strengthen feelings of kindness and connection toward others.
To get started today, just sit with your feet flat on the floor and keep your spine erect. Try to relax and not think about things that generate feelings of anxiety or worry in you. Next, listen to the guided meditation by Dr. Seppala. This audiotape will help you dissolve feelings of grief or resentment trapped within your body and mind.
3) Breath Awareness Meditation
Breath awareness meditation, also known as mindful breathing, promotes mental and physical relaxation. The great thing about this “meditation for sleep” technique is that you can practice it anywhere and anytime. You don’t need a particular set up in your home. However, you can expect some great results when practiced in a calm and relaxed environment.
This is how breath awareness meditation can improve the quality of your sleep:
Ideally, a human being can focus on only one thing at a time. When you become aware of your breathing, you have no other choice than to overlook everything else and be present in the moment.
Here is a scenario that helps you understand breath awareness meditation even better:
If you are experiencing sleepless nights due to excessive thinking or being obsessed with a particular problem in your life, focusing your attention on your breath can put a halt to the stream of uncontrolled thoughts. Instead of letting your mind wander, you will stay focused on your breathing.
4) Body Scan or Progressive Relaxation
It’s not always your mind that needs a repose. Sometimes the real cause of your problems can lie in your body itself. Your mind simply cannot be at ease in the presence of trapped emotions in your body. These emotions can be identified by measuring tension (or tightness) in different parts of your body.
Body scan or progressive relaxation is a meditation technique that helps you recognize the parts of your body that are under tension; and also the parts that need the most attention. Often, people don’t even realize how tight certain parts of their bodies are. This is why you need a meditation technique.
To get started with body scan or progressive relaxation, sit comfortably on a chair with your palms on your laps. Take a few deep breaths and let the stream of thoughts slow down. Before you move further, you should know that this meditation technique involves tensing and relaxing specific muscle groups in your body, one at a time.
For instance, to feel the tension in your hands, begin by raising your right hand in front of you. Begin with squeezing your palm for about 10 seconds. Subsequently, let go of the tension.
Bring your hand back to its default position. Repeat the first step 2-3 times with the right hand. Later, you can move on to the other hand and subsequently to other muscle groups like shoulders, neck, face, abdomen, buttocks, thighs, etc.
The primary intent of any meditation for sleep is to help you disengage from your thinking mind. Once your mind and body get peaceful and tranquil, transitioning from an awakened state to being asleep becomes easy and effort-free. To fall asleep quickly, your body needs your mind to be at ease and not in a state of tension.
We hope you learned a lot from this meditation and sleep guide. Now it’s time to put the techniques mentioned above into practice. Which sleep meditation technique do you like the most? Let us know in the comments below.