We’ve all experienced trouble falling—and staying—asleep at some point in our lives. Your head hits the pillow and your thoughts start tumbling out of control, the stress of your busy modern life invades your sleep as the minutes tick by and you’re thinking about that thing that happened at work today and the thing you have to do tomorrow and the more time that passes the more stressful it becomes because you have a million things on your plate and hours pass and now you’re worried about getting enough rest so you can wake up ready to go, and…
You know that feeling. In fact, it’s estimated that anywhere from 10% to 60% of adults are afflicted with chronic insomnia.
But have you ever considered meditation to relax your way into sleep?
While many factors impair our ability to sleep, stress is one of the main culprits that inhibits sleep and prevents us from getting the quality and duration our bodies need to repair and rejuvenate. Mindfulness practice helps to create a positive habit to be more peaceful, serene and calm. And it’s not just in our heads. Physiological changes also occur during meditation.
Does Meditation Help with Sleep?
Although it’s not the equivalent of flipping a switch to better sleep, the practice of meditation over time can be a powerful tool on the path to wellness and sleep health. More and more research is aimed at studying how mindfulness principles can be used to treat insomnia.
Here are some of the benefits of working mindfulness meditation into your bedtime routine:
- Lowers stress and anxiety. Particularly in this enormously stressful time in the world, we need to pay special attention to our stress and anxiety levels. Meditation helps us let go of stress by calming the mind and promoting a sense of inner peace.
- Evokes the relaxation response in the body. Through techniques that focus on breathing and bringing the mind’s attention to the present moment, meditation evokes the relaxation response which is conducive to sleep. It induces physiological responses like lowered heart rate, controlled breathing and enhanced melatonin levels, studies show.
- Balances the nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is made up of two parts: one keeps us alert, the other helps with sleep. The sympathetic nervous system is akin to a gas pedal that regulates functions like arousal and inflammation. The parasympathetic system is the brake that controls the anti-inflammatory and relaxation response. We need both, but they’re often out of balance because of chronic stress. Meditation has been shown to help overcome the imbalance of sympathetic nervous system dominance.
- May help with depression and other ailments. A pivotal study from 2015 found that mindful awareness practices (or meditation) resulted in improvements in sleep quality, and possibly served to remediate sleep problems such as insomnia, depression, fatigue and fatigue severity. In this oft-cited study one control group engaged in 10 to 30 minutes of mindful meditation a day while the other participated in a sleep education class over the same time period. The meditation group experienced fewer insomnia symptoms and less daytime fatigue.
- It’s safe. Unlike pharmacological treatments for insomnia and sleep disorders which are often short-term and may carry potential side effects, meditation is completely safe, free and accessible to everyone. Dare we say, it’s even fun!
Guided Meditation for a Better Night’s Sleep
The daily practice of meditation is recognized throughout the world as a path to better self-knowledge and well-being. Practicing meditation helps us bring clarity of mind, develop our capacity for compassion and empathy, create meaningful connections to others, focus on gratitude in our lives, explore and work through our fears, and develop the all-important mind-body connection. When incorporated into a bedtime routine, it can be a prepare the mind and body for a better night’s sleep.
With our committment to promoting health and wellness, Sleep Cycle has partenered with Petit BamBou, one of the world’s most downloaded meditation apps?working with 50+ experts in mindfulness, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, sleep, non-violent communication and positive psychology to bring our users guided sleep meditation content they can use as a sleep aid.Whether you’re a beginner or a lifelong practitioner, using a guided sleep meditation program can help fall you asleep more easily, sleep better and wake up more rested and restored.
For your free sleep meditation trial with Petit BamBou for Sleep Cycle, click here.