Meditation for sleep: Your guide to a restful night
Do you struggle to fall asleep at night, even when you’re feeling tired? There’s nothing worse than watching the clock tick along through the early hours knowing that you have to get up soon. It’s not uncommon to start to feel anxiety around the fact that you can’t get to sleep. And there’s nothing worse than feeling rubbish in the morning because you haven’t had enough sleep. Sleep meditation is a powerful tool to release stress and help you to relax improve your sleep quality.
Why sleep is important?
Well for starters, sleep plays a crucial role in maintaining your physical, mental, and emotional health. Sleep is that crucial time your body has to repair, detox and rejuvenate itself, so you awake feeling refreshed and energised.
A continuous lack of sleep can lead to a weakened immune system, increased risk of chronic diseases, and decreased cognitive function.
Even if you’re getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night, you may not be feeling fully rested if the quality of your sleep is poor.Your sleep duration and the quality of your sleep directly affect your ability to retain information and to learn. There is also a link between the relationship with sleep and your gut health.
When you are getting enough quality sleep, you’re better equip to manage stress and regulate your emotions and mood. Your decision making is much clearer.
What’s keeping you up at night?
One of the biggest culprits; lifestyle choices. Your daily habits have a significant impact on your ability to get a good night’s sleep. What you eat, what you drink, the amount of stress you endure, to how much time you spend in front of screens. We live in a society where we are always on the go. From the moment we wake until we go to bed at night. Life is busy.
As a culture we push the boundaries of our natural circadian rhythms. This is the internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycles as well as a variety of other functions like hormone production and digestion. These circadian rhythms are influenced by the daily cycles of light and dark, which means they help to synchronise your body’s function with the natural environment.
The ancient science of Ayurveda teaches us the importance of living in sync with the natural circadian rhythms. This includes the importance of establishing a routine where we get up and go to bed at the same time every day. And the importance of having a bedtime routine.
Eating late into the evening can throw off this natural rhythm and make it harder for you to fully relax and get the deep, restful sleep that you need. To improve your sleep quality, it’s important to pay attention to not only what you eat, but when you eat it, and to try to finish your meals at least a few hours before bedtime to allow your food to digest.
The need for a digital detox
Let’s be honest here. We are all guilty of being enticed by our screens late into the evening. This is our way to relax. We’re either watching TV, scrolling through social media, or watching Netflix on the laptop in bed. That’s if you’re not working late on your computer. All of which interferes with your body’s natural sleep rhythm. How?
The blue light that is emitted from electronic devises suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that naturally regulates your sleep, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. But also, I know if my mind has been active late into the evening and I haven’t given sufficient time to wind down, then there’s a good chance the quality of my sleep is disturbed.
To promote better sleep, try setting yourself a “digital curfew” and avoid using any screens for at least an hour before bed. I wrote a blog recently about ways to ‘wind down in the evening,’ you can access it using the link at the bottom of the page.
Practising meditation for sleep is a natural way to help calm your mind and prepare for a good night’s rest.
How meditation can help you to sleep better.
When I discovered yoga and meditation. I learnt what it really meant to switch off. To unwind. To relax fully. Everything and anything that was occupying my mind was put to one side. All the worries and concerns whether they were work or home related stayed outside. Over time because my mind was clearer, I was able to cope better with day-to-day life. Primarily because I was sleeping so much better. And as a result, I was happier.
That’s my personal experience. and thankfully there are numerous studies that confirm how meditation can help to manage insomnia, reduce stress, anxiety, depression, all the things that interfere with sleep.
Sleep happens when the mind is calm, and the body is relaxed. Mindfulness Meditation gives you more control over the autonomic nervous system. With regular practice takes you from the sympathetic nervous system (stress response), it calms your mind and releases tension in your body so you are relaxed. This is very helpful when you struggle with racing thoughts at bedtime.
Additionally, meditation can help regulate your body’s circadian rhythms, leading to more restful and rejuvenating sleep.
What to expect when you practice Meditation for sleep.
It’s at bedtime when your mind becomes preoccupied with your thoughts making it difficult to relax and fall asleep. There’s nothing worse than laying in bed staring at the ceiling trying to get to sleep but your mind is racing, re-living the events of the day or your mind is worrying about paying bills or that massive to do list on the fridge.
Meditation for sleep is a guided practice that helps you to let go and release the stress and tensions that have accumulated throughout the day. It facilitates the relaxation of both your body and your mind to bring you to a place of calm that will help you to drift off to sleep more easily.
Sleep meditation will help you to create a peaceful state of mind that sets the stage for a truly restful night. By calming the mind, you also rest your body, which makes it easier to relax and fall asleep.
Try this short meditation for sleep practice to help you to relax your body and mind easing you into sleep.
Practice Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra is a form of guided relaxation and meditation that induces deep physical, emotional, and mental relaxation. It reduces stress and anxiety by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, promotes relaxation and enhances body awareness, and increases mindfulness. Practicing Yoga Nidra regularly can help improve sleep quality, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve overall well-being. It’s incredibly effective for anyone who is experiencing insomnia.
If you would like to try Yoga Nidra for yourself, you can access a free recording by clicking here.
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