Stress, anxiety, worry and an overactive mind can prevent quality sleep. Research shows that meditation can calm the mind, help with sleep initiation and maintenance. In this text, we will discuss what meditation is, how it can improve sleep, and what are the best techniques for doing so.
What is meditation?
Meditation is an ancestral practice where man seeks a greater interrelationship between himself and the Universe where he lives, working with this the spiritual aspects of his existence. There are many techniques and many ways to meditate.
It is to the mind what physical exercise is to the body. Here we present two basic modes of practice: guided, which is when another person leads you through a practice, through breathing techniques, relaxation, visualization, contemplative text or reflection, even some types of prayers can be meditative forms . It can be accompanied by a soundtrack but only when you want something more playful, uncommitted, focused on relaxation, as well as the use of relaxing sounds from nature and the like.
The self-guided (or self-guided) is when we conduct the chosen technique ourselves. Here there are still several other techniques that can be done by self-driving.
Meditation rarely carries risks or side effects, but if you have a history of a psychiatric disorder, talk to your doctor before starting. Its frequent practice can bring many benefits, including:
1 — Reduces excitation or hyperalertness in the brain.
2 — Promotes muscle relaxation.
3 — Increases the production of melatonin (sleep hormone).
4 — Increases serotonin (a hormone that regulates sleep, mood and appetite).
5 — Reduces heart rate and lowers blood pressure.
6 — Decreases anxiety and depression symptoms.
7 — Activates the parts of the brain that control sleep.
Meditation and Sleep
Meditation is a great alternative for those looking for a natural, affordable and drug-free way to improve sleep, especially mindfulness techniques, which have proven beneficial results, especially in insomnia. Even in people who already have some treatment for insomnia (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy), meditating can improve sleep even more. Furthermore, depending on the chosen technique, it can be performed anywhere and anytime. The only thing you need is a few minutes a day!
There are several meditation techniques that can improve sleep. Some of the techniques most used today are listed below:
Mindfulness meditation (often known as mindfulness) is one of the most studied practices in relation to sleep and insomnia. It is known that it is a very efficient practice in cases of insomnia, which can make the complaints related to sleep decrease a lot. It is based on focusing on the present, as well as working on your awareness in relation to your breath and body. Many adherents of mindfulness consider it more than a meditation practice, a lifestyle.
Mindfulness technique: body scan
In body scanning practice, you focus on each part of your body, with the aim of increasing awareness of your physical sensations, such as tension and pain. If you feel tense when you go to sleep, this can be a great technique to help you physically relax. It promotes muscle relaxation, reducing arousal or hyperalertness in the brain, facilitating sleep onset.
Do it lying down only if you have difficulty sleeping, otherwise always sitting in a comfortable position, in a chair keeping your legs at 90 degrees, spine erect against the chair and palms resting on your legs. The main steps are:
1 — Take your correct position.
2 — Take a few deep, neutral, uncommitted breaths as you settle down.
3 — Generate the intention to do the best practice you can at this time.
4 — Concentrate on the facial region, noticing your muscles, tense or relaxed, and the sensations that may be there.
5. Your task is to descend through the various parts of the body, from head to toe, in any order you like, attentive, diligent, just observing the various sensations that observation brings you.
6 - You may feel pleasant, unpleasant or neutral sensations, whatever they are, observe with care and exemption.
7 - Go through your body, part by part, piece by piece, being aware of any reactions, aversions or attachments.
8 — Take your time, calmly.
9 — If you experience any discomfort or difficult sensation, open your eyes and keep practicing, feeling good, close your eyes and continue.
10 — At the end, take 3 deep breaths, open your eyes and move slowly.
11 — You can do it at any time of the day and before going to sleep.
12 — Make it between 5-8 minutes at the start.
Meditation with breathing
When practicing with breathing exercises, the aim is for you to concentrate on the in-breath and out-breath movements so that the mind will calm down, replacing distractions with a focus on breathing. By training your mind to focus, you create new abilities to relax more effectively, which can help you fall asleep and sleep better. This is a great meditation to help you fall asleep when you wake up at night or when you feel anxious and hyperalert when you go to bed. Follow the steps below:
1 — Find a comfortable position.
2 — Direct your attention to your breath.
3 — Notice how each in-and-out breath moves in and out of your body, moving through your nose, neck, and lungs.
4 — Feel your chest and abdomen moving smoothly.
5 — Just watch, you don't need to alter the natural rhythm of your breathing.
6 - Concentrate, bring your mind back to the breath whenever it wanders.
7 — Practice a few minutes every day.
If you are having trouble sleeping because of worries or thoughts about people who have hurt you or who you have hurt, practicing loving-kindness meditation can be a great way to alleviate this feeling. This practice involves feelings of kindness, love and compassion towards yourself and others.
If you can't sleep because you're feeling stuck with feelings of frustration, anger, irritation, guilt, or worry, this technique can help. Allow yourself to process and acknowledge your emotions, rather than ignoring or repressing them. Be kind to yourself without judgment. As you practice, you will find that the unwanted emotion will begin to fade away and you will be able to fall asleep and sleep better. Follow the steps below:
1 —Look for a comfortable posture.
2 —Try to be mindful of your breathing for a while.
3 —Bring to mind some suffering that you are going through right now.
4 —Repeat, mentally, these phrases of compassion:
"May I recognize this suffering"
"May I welcome and accept this suffering"
"May I understand the causes of this suffering"
"May I create conditions to free myself from this suffering"
5 —Repeat this block of sentences 3 times.
6 —Turn your attention back to your breathing.
7 —Decide to open your eyes and get out of practice.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-i) and Meditation
While meditation can improve your sleep, it does not replace behaviors important to quality sleep. This includes keeping regular sleep schedules, going to bed only when sleepy, avoiding using electronics before bed, avoiding caffeine and heavy meals before bed, and keeping the room dark and quiet. SleepUp can help you with that!
Research shows that combining Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for insomnia with meditation can achieve even better results. This is SleepUp's proposal! Follow our social media, blog and stay tuned to our product launch!