Turning left and right, face upwards and downwards, and assuming other strange positions you can in order to immerse yourself into dreamland without any luck can be quite frustrating.
Almost everyone has had trouble sleeping at some point in their lives and it is one of the worst feelings especially if you are supposed to wake up very early in the morning the following day.
Well, meditation has been found to be a useful aid in helping you fall asleep fast and remain asleep throughout the night to allow for restful and refreshing sleep.
Let’s take a closer and deeper look at how meditation can improve the quality of our sleep.
The Affliction of Lack of Sleep
First and foremost, sleep is an essential part of our lives because it allows us to take a break from our busy schedules as well as relax, and allow our bodies to repair so that we are able to go about our activities the next day feeling fresh and energetic.
Unfortunately, as earlier mentioned, every human being, especially adults, has had a time when they lacked sleep for one reason or another and it’s shocking to see how much we underrate sleep for work, school, and other activities.
In fact, there are people who sleep for as little as 2 hours just so that they can hit a certain deadline or because they chose work over their sleep.
Choosing work over sleep is entirely a personal choice, but in the long run, it will cost you big time, especially health-wise.
Away from this, there are many reasons that contribute to lack of sleep even when you desperately desire to do so.
Some of them include stress, where maybe there is something bothering you and can’t seem to solve. Stress is actually among the major causes of insomnia.
Other contributing factors to lack of sleep include:
– Taking certain medication, for example, decongestants and cold medication (1)
– Medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes
– Sleep-related disorders
– High intake of caffeine for coffee lovers
– Change in sleep patterns
– Eating too much (especially in the evenings, something most of us are guilty of)
– Poor sleep habits (such as using our smart devices before bedtime)
Sleeping problems increase the risk of you getting life-threatening conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and impairment of memory, to name a few.
To avoid this, there are many ways to deal with lack of sleep, some of which are medical and others natural, and if you are like many people who prefer the natural way, meditation is a viable option.
Meditation has immense benefits on health in general, and sleep is among them as it influences many factors that contribute to your quality of sleep.
How Meditation Helps With Sleep
1. Helps to Deal With Stress
One of the ways meditation improves your sleep is by dealing with stress which is known to keep you awake the whole night.
Assuming you are not getting sleep because you are worried about what the next day or week is going to be like due to something bad that you think is about to happen or something that has already happened in your life that is most likely to affect your future, meditation can help reduce overwhelming thoughts and help you be mentally relaxed enough to fall asleep.
Through meditating, you get to silence your mind from the worries of the future or the regrets of what has already happened so that you focus only on the present moment and remain there.
This will in turn help you get a peaceful mental environment that will let you sleep.
You get to relax, become peaceful and calm that in turn helps you easily drift off to sleep.
2. Helps to Reduce Mind Wandering
Additionally, It helps with wandering thoughts that more often cause one to lose sleep.
Have you ever gone to bed and suddenly started getting into deep thoughts of maybe something embarrassing that you did during the day and found yourself unable to sleep because you keep replaying it in your head wondering how it all happened?
Or found yourself going from one thought to another, that is, from thinking about how a certain person treated you during the day to how you met someone you weren’t in contact with for many years to thinking how close you two were together with the person to something they did that was funny or disappointing?
All these thoughts and you still want to sleep?
If you have been there, you know how tormenting it can be.
This is where meditation comes in because it helps not only clear your mind but also recollect your thoughts.
Through dealing with the many wandering thoughts and with the help of meditation finding something to focus on, in this case, falling asleep, you will find yourself able to do so effortlessly especially if you make it a routine.
3. Increases Melatonin Levels
Meditation heightens your melatonin levels thus causing you to sleep better (2).
If you are confused at the use of that term, don’t be, melatonin is simply a hormone that is made by a gland called the pineal gland found in your brain and it’s associated with sleep and staying awake.
A fascinating fact is that this hormone, is mostly made by your body at night and that makes sense because you mostly sleep at night hours, and during the day, the levels for this same hormone drop because you obviously need to stay alert throughout the day.
There are people that opt to buy melatonin pills to increase the levels of melatonin in their bodies for better sleep but you should know that they come with their side effects such as headaches and stomach discomfort, and others, thus making meditation a much better and safer option.
Tips When Engaging in Meditation For Better Sleep
~ Ensure you’re in a conducive environment
Choose an area that is calm, free of distractions, and quiet for your sleep meditation to further enhance the whole experience for you.
You can do this by, staying away from distractions, and, yes, that includes switching off your phone and TV, as well as choosing a comfortable position and place where you know the people who are around won’t interrupt your session.
~ Choose a suitable meditation approach
There are many styles of meditation that have been shown to help with sleep such as guided meditation which involves listening to someone taking you through your meditation session.
Also, you can go with concentration meditation that entails finding something to focus on to help you gather your thoughts, or body scan meditation that helps you focus on the existing state of your body and mind.
You can even choose to do mindfulness meditation that will help you remain in the present moment, which has shown rewarding results with helping people sleep well.
Alternatively, if you have a meditation style that you normally do, you can decide to be doing it slightly before you sleep so that it’s in sync with your meditation habits and also helps you sleep.
It is up to you to choose what you know will work for you and then seek to stay committed to that for the best results.
~ Create a meditation routine
It’s very important to come up with a meditation routine because it will allow you to be consistent.
If you always meditate as part of your personal well-being routine then you don’t need to worry about it.
However, if you have never meditated before or you do it once in a blue moon, then you should seriously consider making it a daily practice in your life.
You can choose to meditate 30 minutes before you go to bed every day so that it helps you sleep better.
Anything that works for you is good to work with but coming up with a specific time for meditation and sticking to it will go a long way in helping you see results faster because you are practicing regularly.
~ Be easy on yourself
It is known among most people who meditate that meditation is not as easy as sitting and breathing in and out for 30 minutes without worrying about anything.
However, it is also not that hard.
It is fairly challenging especially as you are starting out because you will be training your wild mind to concentrate and reduce the thoughts that keep coming up.
For that reason, you need to be patient with yourself because change doesn’t happen overnight, and more importantly, it’s okay if you don’t get it right the first few times.
You are bound to experience problems along the way.
Each meditation session is not going to be the same. Some days it will be uplifting and others, disappointing.
So you have to be prepared for that and always ready to accept whatever happens as you work on bettering yourself and mastering it in your life.
Things will work out eventually and it will be a smooth practice for you in good time.
What Research Studies Say About Meditation for Sleep
Various research studies have been carried out on meditation and its effect on sleep and they showed it is a potentially effective intervention for people who are struggling with sleep.
Here are some of them and their results.
A certain study looking at how mindfulness meditation enhances sleep quality in older adults with mild sleep disturbances found out that mindful awareness practices helped in improving sleep quality in the participants (3).
Another study that also researched the effect of mindfulness-based practices on sleep showed that the practices may have a positive influence on some of the aspects that bring about sleep disturbances (4).
Also, research looking at how the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program on sleep trait and cognitive health works for insomnia patients found that the program improved those two aspects in participants with insomnia. Their quality of sleep was improved and depression and anxiety symptoms were better managed (5).
A 2020 study looking at the usefulness of a short Yoga Nidra meditation on sleep, well-being, and stress observed that the group that participated in meditation indicated better sleep, lower stress, and increased well-being (6).
Yoga Nidra meditation is also referred to as yogic sleep and it’s one of the simplest yoga practices to engage in.
In summary, meditation shows to be a great alternative for handling sleep problems for most people who have not had luck with other solutions believed to help with sleep.
If you are not getting enough sleep because of stress, wandering thoughts, or other reasons, we encourage trying out meditation and see how it works out for you.
If you have other health issues alongside lack of sleep, and they have persisted for a long time, you should consider seeing a doctor as that might be a sign of an underlying condition.
Either way, finding a meditation practice that you relate with and connect deeply with and adding it to your daily schedule can go beyond just helping you with sleep problems but also improve your life as a whole.