What if through simple sleep meditation you could become healthier? No doubt you can relate to that feeling of lying in bed unable to sleep. A million thoughts are running through your brain. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there at some point. But there is one way to fall asleep faster. It’s straightforward and it doesn’t cost a thing.
Sleep meditation is simply meditation that helps you sleep. It's the point when your mind becomes clear. Your body is fully relaxed. And even though it’s similar to sleep, your mind is still alert. And all you need to do is focus on a single object, sound or thought. Before you know it you drift off to sleep. But for many people, it’s easier said than done.
The connection between sleep and meditation does not shock anyone who works in the sleep, medical or health industries. When you meditate, your mind and body enter a state of full relaxation. The connection is well-researched for its multiple health benefits.
One of those research projects finds that sleep meditation helps battle insomnia. The research, distributed in JAMA Internal Medicine, incorporates 49 adults who experience difficulty sleeping. Half participated in a mindfulness program that includes meditation. And the other half participated in a sleep education class that teaches approaches to enhance sleep. The research subjects in the mindfulness program had less sleep deprivation, weariness, and depression toward the end of six sessions.
Dr Herbert Benson, executive emeritus of the Harvard-partnered Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, is not surprised by these findings. According to Dr Benson, the relaxation response you feel in meditation creates a profound change in your body. What's more, it's the opposite of a stress response. This reaction may help ease many health issues, including pain, anxiety, depression and high blood pressure. Dr Benson points out that for some, stress is linked to sleep disorders.
So, now we understand that meditation loosens up your body and relaxes your mind. No surprises there. However, why does sleep meditation make such a big difference? Well, the answer lies in how your mind and body reacts during meditation.
How Sleep Meditation Helps You Sleep
- Change Your Brainwaves
It’s hard to believe but you can actually change your brain waves through sleep meditation. When you have a sleeping disorder like insomnia, you have more beta brainwaves. Beta brain waves are typically present when you have depression and anxiety. Research demonstrates that meditators have fewer beta brainwaves and more alpha, theta and delta brainwaves. Alpha, theta and delta brain waves make you calm. What's more, they can even counteract beta brainwaves.
- Bigger Brain
Ok, so now we know you can change your brainwaves for the better. But, as crazy as this sounds, you can also change the size of parts of your brain. Sleep meditation develops the Pons area of your cerebrum. That’s your brain. The Pons links the upper and lower parts of your brain. It sends messages to various parts of your brain. So what does your Pons have to do with how well you sleep? It actually has a huge impact on sleep and dreaming. Not only that but REM sleep begins in the Pons. And, meditation actually thickens your Pons.
Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, examines the impact of meditation on the cerebrum. She examined a gathering of long-time meditators and a gathering of individuals who never meditate. In the second group, Sara discovered changes in brain volume after two months in five distinct locales in the brain. She compares meditation to a workout. Exercise enhances wellbeing, helps adapt to stress and advances lifespan. Unsurprisingly, meditation has a similar impact on health.
- The Sleep Hormone
Meditation creates the sleep hormone melatonin. Melatonin is emitted by the pineal, a little gland over the centre of your brain. Melatonin enables your body to comprehend when it's time to sleep and wake up. As a rule, your body delivers more melatonin during the evening. And that is the reason sleep meditation is so effective.
- Reduce Stress
As you begin meditation, your mind lets go of thoughts, stress and tension. Of course, those thoughts may fly once more into your head while meditating and that’s fine. Simply pause for a minute and endeavour to put them aside once more. Putting those thoughts aside enables your mind and body to unwind and recover. In the long run, reducing feelings of anxiety prompts better sleep.
The proof is in. Sleep meditation will improve your health and wellbeing. But how easy is sleep meditation? Regardless of how much you try to focus on meditating, you may still find your mind wandering off. Thinking about work, family or all the things on your to-do list. Don’t worry, there are many sleep meditation options to try. It’s just a matter of persisting and finding the right one to suit your style.
3 Ways To Meditate And Fall Asleep Faster
- Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness is a hot word at the moment. So it’s no wonder that this technique is becoming so popular. But despite the mindful hype, this meditation technique is very straightforward. Simply find a comfortable seat or lie down and focus on your breath. If your mind starts to wander bring it back by concentrating on your next breath. The reason this technique is so successful is that your breath is always there. And, it’s pretty predictable.
- Concentration Meditation
Ok, if you're battling with sleep meditation then this style might be the way to go. Concentration meditation means focussing on a certain thing. It could be a mental image of the sea, a swell in the water or imagining rocking in a hammock. Think about a time when you were relaxed and centre your mind on a visual picture of that moment.
If visualisation isn't your thing have a go at focussing on a mantra. A mantra is a solitary word or an expression repeated again and again. The most famous of these is a straightforward 'aum', otherwise called "
- Guided Meditation
Have you been to a yoga class with meditation toward the end? Your yoga instructor is speaking in a delicate voice as you try to unwind. And yet, if you’ve never meditated it doesn’t feel natural attempting it in a class.
Guided meditation is when you are guided by someone or something other than yourself. Usually by an instructor or professional. But if you're in a class it can be challenging to maintain your focus. Getting the hang of guided meditation requires patience. And in the end, you'll begin to loosen up more and more and float along with your teacher's calming voice.
Meanwhile, there are heaps of alternatives for guided meditation when you're at home trying to sleep. Guided meditation is available as digital broadcasts, CDs, music or verbal guidance. Check out some podcasts or other voice recordings. Experiment with various types of guided meditation to find what suits you best.
Enhancing your sleep through meditation will have a positive effect on your life. If you try meditation and you suffer from daytime sleepiness there may be an underlying problem. Sleep disorders often go unrecognised. And the negative consequences are serious. Call us today on 1300 246 637 or submit the contact form below for a free no-obligation chat with one of our friendly Sleep Therapists. Contact us now.
- Black DS, O’Reilly GA, Olmstead R, Breen EC, Irwin MR. Mindfulness Meditation and Improvement in Sleep Quality and Daytime Impairment Among Older Adults With Sleep Disturbances, A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(4):494–501.