Meditate the Way to a Better Night of Sleep

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Even if you go to bed at the same time every night and practice healthy sleep tips, if your mind is whipping through your to-do list near bedtime, rapidly cataloguing, planning and worrying, chances are you’re waking up unrested and miserable most mornings.

The solution? Meditation.

We all seem to be caught in the busyness trap: our to-do lists never end, our plates are overflowing, and we’re just doing our best to keep our heads above water (never mind trying to achieve the elusive work-life balance).

Some of us even wish we didn’t need to sleep so we’d have more time, some of us hit that snooze button ten times every morning, and some of us actively deprive ourselves of sleep to steal that extra time.

But, all this wishing and depriving isn’t making us less busy; it’s only interfering with healthy sleep.

Meditation is both simple and challenging. Simple because there really isn’t much to it, but challenging because we often expect more or struggle to detach ourselves from our thought patterns.

The practice is threefold: there’s mindful meditation where you focus on an object or your breathing, there’s open-monitoring meditation where you note everything that’s happening around and within you without reacting, and there’s guided meditation where a teacher or recording guides you with their voice.

No matter how you meditate, the practice removes stress and adds inner peace, giving us the best tool to create balance and promote positivity. For beginners, guided meditation is the easiest way to learn because it helps you to focus – mediating on your own can be challenging, but even a few minutes of meditation can create a major change in your day to day life (and your sleep!).

You can find guided meditations at The Chopra Center or even on your smart phone with apps like Calm (which also has sleep stories) or Headspace. If you’d like to try it on your own, here’s a simple meditation, start with 2 minutes and progress from there:

According to The Buddhist Centre, meditation “is the only real antidote to our own personal sorrows, and to the anxieties, fears, hatreds, and general confusions that beset the human condition.” Meditation isn’t just for Buddhists and yoga aficionados though, it’s for everyone and it’s especially effective for getting a better night’s sleep.
  1. Find a comfortable, quiet place to sit or lie down. You might use some essential oils in a diffuser or behind your ears (cedarwood, lavender, bergamot, or ylang ylang are best).
  2. Close your eyes (an eye mask may be helpful).
  3. Breathe naturally.
  4. Focus your attention on your breath and notice how it moves through your body – your belly, chest, nose, rib cage – but don’t alter your breathing. If you find yourself thinking, move your focus back to your breath.

Practicing meditation allows us to exercise control over our own thoughts and state of mind.

According to The Buddhist Centre, meditation “is the only real antidote to our own personal sorrows, and to the anxieties, fears, hatreds, and general confusions that beset the human condition.” Meditation isn’t just for Buddhists and yoga aficionados though, it’s for everyone and it’s especially effective for getting a better night’s sleep.

A recent Harvard study shows that those who practice meditation daily have less insomnia, fatigue, and depression than those who took a sleep education course. This is because meditation triggers the relaxation response in our bodies: “a deep physiological shift in the body that’s the opposite of the stress response.

The relaxation response can help ease many stress-related ailments, including depression, pain, and high blood pressure.” Meditation helps us to break the negative, anxiety inducing thought patterns that trigger our stress response and make it hard for us to fall asleep. Scientifically speaking, people that meditate regularly produce more alpha, theta, and delta brainwaves which promote relaxation and sleep whereas those who don’t meditate have more beta brain waves which make us more alert.

While meditation is an excellent tool for promoting healthy sleep and overall well being, even meditation can’t fix a sleep disorder like sleep apnea. If you think you might have a deeper issue, take our sleep quiz today!