Mindfulness Meditation: A Scientific Approach to Better Sleep
In today’s fast-paced world, many of us struggle to get a good night’s sleep. Despite trying several medications, teas, and bedtime routines, we often wake up feeling tired and groggy. However, recent studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can help improve the overall quality of sleep.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is defined as the state of being conscious or aware of one’s experience without judgment. It is a mental practice that promotes acute awareness of one’s attention and mental processes, leading to improved well-being, concentration, mental clarity, and peacefulness.
Mindfulness for Better Sleep:
A recent clinical trial published in the JAMA Internal Medicine involved 50 adults with chronic sleep problems. They were divided into two groups- the first group was taught specific behaviors related to developing a bedtime routine, while the second group underwent a six-week program that taught mindfulness meditation under the guidance of certified instructors.
The study concluded that those who learned the practice of mindfulness had significant improvements in their overall sleep quality, and fewer symptoms of fatigue, insomnia, and depression compared to those who were taught specific behaviors related to a bedtime routine.
How the Practice of Mindfulness Meditation Helps Us Sleep Better:
Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on one’s breathing and bringing one’s attention to the present, preventing the mind from wandering into concerns about the past or future. Often, what distracts us from sleep are the never-ending tasks on our to-do lists, concerns for the next day, and so on. By practicing mindfulness, we can break the never-ending chain of thoughts flying around in our heads and evoke a relaxation response.
The relaxation response is a physiological shift in the body that is the opposite of the stress response. When we’re in a relaxed state, we can help ease stress-related ailments such as insomnia, blood pressure, and pain.
How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation for Better Sleep:
Here’s how you can practice mindfulness meditation for better sleep:
1. Choose Your Calming Force: You may choose your breath, a specific sound, a positive word, or a phrase- whatever suits you best. If it’s breathing, inhale slowly and deeply and exhale slowly and deeply. If it’s a phrase, repeat it over and over again in your mind.
2. Relax and Let Go: It’s natural for your mind to wander, but when you become aware that it has wandered, bring it back to your chosen calming force and start the process again.
Sleeping is crucial for our well-being, and mindfulness meditation is a scientifically-proven way to improve the quality of our sleep. By incorporating this practice into our pre-sleep routines, we can help improve our overall health for years to come.