Meditation for sleep
If you're trying to get better sleep, meditation could be just what you need.
In fact, it might even make you feel like you're falling asleep while meditating.
A study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found that people who practiced mindfulness meditation had lower levels of alpha waves — the brain waves associated with relaxed alertness — during nighttime rest periods.
This suggests that meditation could actually affect how well we sleep.
What is meditation for sleep?
Meditation helps train us to be more in the present moment.
We learn how to focus our attention on one thing at a time without getting distracted by other things.
When we meditate, we're able to let go of thoughts that come up throughout the day.
Mediation helps calm your body and mind; it also helps you to be receptive to spiritual signs and connect with God.
This restful practice allows us to relax into the evening and prepare ourselves for restful sleep.
Before bedtime, try practicing mindfulness meditation.
You'll want to sit quietly for five minutes and just observe whatever thoughts are coming up in your mind.
Don't judge yourself or your thoughts; simply watch them pass.
Once you've completed your session, it's important to take some deep breaths and release tension in your body.
Then lie down and close your eyes.
Focus on relaxing each part of your body, starting with your feet and working your way up to your face.
The sleep deprivation epidemic
Sleep deprivation affects every aspect of our lives.
We know it impacts our physical health, mental health and work performance, but we don't always think about how much it affects us emotionally and spiritually.
There's a growing body of research suggesting that sleep deprivation leads to anxiety and depression.
While some people are able to cope with the effects of sleep deprivation, others struggle to deal with the consequences.
Researchers looked at studies that examined the impact of sleep deprivation on everything from physical health to emotional well being. They found that sleep deprivation causes changes in brain activity, leading to increased stress levels, poor memory recall, impaired decision-making skills, decreased ability to focus, and altered mood.
There's a growing body of data showing that sleep deprivation leads to obesity.
Studies show that obese individuals experience less deep sleep and more light sleep than normal-weight people. One study found that obese women had lower amounts of slow wave sleep than lean women. Another study found that obese men experienced worse sleep quality than normal-weight men.
Another study found that sleep deprivation increases appetite.
Participants who slept fewer hours ate more calories than those who got adequate rest. While researchers aren't sure why this happens, they suspect that sleep deprivation makes you hungrier because it reduces the amount of leptin circulating in your bloodstream. Leptin helps regulate hunger and satiety.
A third study found that sleep deprived participants had elevated cortisol levels compared to rested participants.
Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands that regulates blood sugar and metabolism. Elevated cortisol levels can lead to insulin resistance, which contributes to weight gain.
Finally, a fourth study found that sleep deprivation alters the way fat cells function.
Fat cells produce hormones called adipokines. These chemicals help control inflammation, glucose metabolism, and energy balance. When you're sleep deprived, your fat cells secrete different types of adipokines than when you're getting enough sleep.
Guided meditations are a great way to help us relax before bedtime. They can also help reduce stress and improve our overall health. If you find yourself struggling to fall asleep, try out a guided meditation like one included in this post. You can find more at Skylight.org.
Another approach is counting each breath. This will calm you down and help you drift off to sleep. If you suffer from insomnia or are anxious about sleeping, try counting breaths before bedtime. You'll find yourself drifting off to sleep faster and easier because it helps you relax.
Try this technique before bedtime, and see how much better your night goes.