How to meditate for better sleep

How to meditate to sleep better
If you ever struggle to fall asleep at night, you are not the only one.
According to the UK Sleep Council, about 40% of the adult population are experiencing sleep issues.
For most, sleeping difficulty relates to stress, anxiety, worries, and other external factors that can lead to serious health problems.
Chronic insomnia increases the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, unhealthy eating habits that can lead to other chronic illnesses. Sleep deprivation can also cause impairments in short and long term memory, decision making attention, and reaction time.
Meditation has shown to improve the quality and efficiency of your wellbeing. This relaxation technique can ease the body and mind while reducing stress and anxiety. If implemented before bed can help you to fall asleep faster and provide calmness.
We will first look at the benefits of meditation for sleep and wellbeing. And later we will dive deep into different meditation techniques you can apply for a better good night’s sleep.
How meditation can help sleep better?
According to several studies, the main way that meditation can help you sleep better is by reducing stress and anxiety. Meditation aims to calm your thoughts, and by calming your thoughts, you reduce the feelings associated with those.
But meditation is not only limited to putting you in a calm state of mind but also decreases blood pressure, reduces heart rate, and increases melatonin (the sleep hormone).
Besides, a recent clinical trial mentioned in WebMD journal claims that meditation may work better than painkillers when it comes to soothing chronic low back pain. Often a big sleep disruptor.
Learn how to meditate
Meditation is a common practice available to all, which can reduce stress, increase calmness and clarity, and promotes happiness. Learning how to meditate is straightforward and does not require any special training or tools. All it takes is a matter of minutes every day.
Establishing a meditation routine in your life though will take some time but you will slowly start to feel its benefits.
Meditation for sleep should be approached in the same way as meditating during the day time, with a calm intention.
Before you begin your sleep meditation: lie flat on your back on the bed, take a few deep breaths, and close your eyes, allowing the body to turn off.
When we allow the body to relax and allow the mind to drift off, we do so in a soft, gentle way, not trying to force sleep, otherwise, we encourage more thoughts and reactions to come up.
The more you practice, the more likely you are to build a quiet and tranquil mind that can sleep at ease.
Now let’s look at two different meditation techniques that are proven to be beneficial for your sleep.
Guided Meditation
This technique happens when another person leads you throughout the whole meditation session. They can instruct you to breathe in a certain way, body scan, visualize an object, or just counting. A quick overview of what those instructions might employ:
Breathing Exercise- This involves adjusting your breath- counting your breath and slowing it down until your body gets the signal that is time for sleep.
Body Scan- As you lie down, you might be asked to follow your breath and notice the weight of your body on the bed. You will soon start thinking of switching off each part of your body.
Visualizations- Usually ask you to imagine scenery or an object, that takes you into a different state of mind until you go into a deep sleep.
Counting- Among the most common techniques, you might be invited to count slowly backward from 20 to 1 and reverse until your body and mind start to detach completely.
There are many guided meditation techniques available, but we focused on the most common ones so you can get an idea.
To learn and adapt to the guided techniques there are many sources you can explore, mostly for free.
Meditation Apps: Head Space, Calm
PodcastsSleep with Me, RadioLab
Youtube Playlists: Sleep Meditation Music
Unguided Meditation
If practicing unguided meditation, progress at your own pace. The more you practice, the more likely you are to build a quiet and restful mind that can sleep at ease.
For most people, unguided meditation involves simply sitting in quiet and paying attention to your body and thoughts for a set period of time until switching off. For others, it involves using some of the techniques learned from previous guided practices.
Once you find a comfortable position to lay down, start to feel the sensation, feelings, or thoughts without reacting to it. Let your mind go away without paying attention to it.
Whenever you find you are not in the body and roaming somewhere in your thoughts you have to bring back awareness to your body. Keep doing it until your body and mind get into a sleeping mode.
While guided meditation involves a careful instruction from a well-trained facilitator to help you drift off to sleep, unguided meditation is an individual process that allows you to explore your own thoughts & creativity by entering into a subconscious sleep.
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Everyday stress and anxiety often stand in the way of a good night’s sleep. Studies have shown that meditation can calm the mind and help achieve a better quality of sleep.
Although meditation can improve the quality and efficiency of your sleep, the sleep environment should be also considered. This includes having a regular sleep schedule, quiet, clean and dark bedroom, turning off all your devices, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed.

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