Meditation is an ancient practice that has been utilized for millennia for its various healing benefits. Yet, it has recently been rediscovered by modern science, most notably for its connection to sleep health.
Meditation is a very broad term that refers to any approach that calms the mind and thereby the body, typically using controlled breathing exercises and various mental techniques.
Even though meditation is often recommended to improve sleep health, the precise nature of its application is often up to the person.
In this article, we discuss two ways that meditation can be integrated into a healthy sleep regimen, focusing on the benefits of these approaches as well as tips for successfully implementing them.
A Philosophical Introduction to Meditation for Sleep
Traditionally, modern doctors and gurus have recommended that people meditate just prior to going to bed, claiming that this practice can reduce stress and anxiety.
Many people struggle with detaching from the worries of the day and find themselves ruminating excessively just before bed. As we get more tired, we have less energy available to maintain our normal limits, thus making it more difficult to protect our existing ideas from new ideas.
During the day, this novelty is usually welcomed as a form of creativity.
But at night, when we are comparatively weaker, our ego can often get in the way, attaching to various dogma that it wants to avoid changing. This can lead to elevated stress levels, blood pressure levels, and body temperature, all of which are antagonistic to sleep health.
By meditating, we can gently experience this nightly dissolution of limits before entering the mind-blowing realms of our dreams.
While many different types of meditation exist, perhaps the simplest and easiest involves just following your breath. If you are just beginning to meditate, try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth at whatever pace seems comfortable.
If your mind is overly active, try labeling each breath as “inhale” and “exhale”. Do this over and over until you feel you have gained some distance from your daytime experiences.
If you find yourself needing guidance, many body guided meditations are available via online videos or online podcasts. An easy way to incorporate these is to put on headphones and listen to one of these guided meditations, surrendering to the process and trusting that the guide will lead you to a calmer, more peaceful state of being.
Many guided meditations for sleep even utilize ambient music to engender low-frequency brain waves, making it that much easier to fall asleep.
Another approach to using meditation for sleep health involves integrating it throughout the day. This might seem counter-intuitive, but actually our sleep health is greatly contingent upon how we function throughout the day.
The entire day is interconnected, and when we are stressed or anxious during any part of the day, even for a moment, this is reflected at night when we review our daytime experiences.
On the other hand, when we feel calm and comfortable throughout the day, we are often more satisfied before bed, and find it easier to unwind and drift into unconsciousness.
Meditating throughout the day, especially when we anticipate a stressful situation, can help maximize our energy levels and ensure that we never get burned out or overly-anxious.
Some people like to meditate right upon awakening, as they feel overburdened with anticipation for the coming day. This can be a great way of setting the tone for the day as well as preparing the body and mind for the night.
Other people prefer meditating for a brief period of time whenever they feel out of control. Meditation can be a great way to gain control over your mind and body and prevent irrational decision making.
Lastly, many meditators choose to meditate in group settings where mantras can be chanted and social harmony can be experienced. This is especially a good option if you are fearful of being solitary, as group meditation is simultaneously grounding, stimulating, and calming.
Our Final Thoughts on Meditation for Sleep Health
We think that meditation is an indispensable tool for all areas of health which inform our sleep health.
If we are unhealthy at any point during the day, our sleep will be affected negatively. This means that we should be constantly aware of our unhealthy habits. Meditation is one method for increasing this awareness during the day.
In addition, even the healthiest members of society can benefit from meditating before they go to bed.
Anyone that lives in the modern world, no matter their level of health, can get overwhelmed by the amount of information available for processing. Meditating before sleep can prepare you for the deep processing that is about to occur.
Some people find meditation so restorative that they substitute parts of their sleep for it. This only reflects how deeply beneficial meditation techniques can be.
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