Bye Bye Sheep – An Intro to Sleep Meditation


13620135_8d8dd8cfaa_o (1)We’ve all been there – tossing and turning late at night, trying to get some much needed rest but it’s nearly impossible. If you’ve counted sheet into the millions, had a glass of warm milk, or read a novel from front to back, and you’re STILL wide awake, chances are you might need a meditation for sleep. Sleep mediation works by slowing down, or even quieting altogether, the worrisome or stressful thoughts that come into our brain at 1AM, 3AM, 5AM…you get the picture.

Whether you regularly have insomnia, or can’t sleep due to stress, anxiety, illness, or the like, sleep meditation will help you to settle in for a great night’s sleep. Sleep – it’s something so simple but so crucial to our overall physical and mental health. Studies have shown that sleeplessness can lead not only to tiredness, lack of energy, and concentration, but also to an increased risk of developing high blood pressure and obesity. According to the National Sleep Foundation “there is a wealth of research indicating that people with insomnia have poorer overall health, more work absenteeism, and a higher incidence of depression”. Coronary heart disease occurs more often in those suffering from insomnia as well.

So how do you start using sleep mediation? First off, it’s important to understand the role that mindfulness mediation plays in sleep meditation. Rather than being reactive to the thought process that is keeping you awake you need to instead be aware of it and understand it. For example, if you are thinking about your performance review at work the next day and focusing only on how badly it could go, you won’t sleep. However, if you think about it and accept that it could go either way (good or bad), then chances are greater you will be able to fall asleep. It’s important to start any sleep meditation practice being mindful of what is keeping you asleep.

Sleep meditation works by relaxing the body and elevating its levels of serotonin which in turn lowers anxiety and stress, as well as your blood pressure. Whereas some people can’t sleep because of stress, some can’t sleep because of pain (i.e. a bad back, sciatica, etc.). When your blood pressure is lower, it reduces throbbing and swelling, common triggers for pain. By being mindful, you will also teach your brain to accept the pain, and not challenge it.

One of the most common techniques for sleep mediation is called mindful breathing which brings attention to the natural flow of the breath and helps channel the mind into the breathing process rather than on disruptive thoughts. It can be carried out alongside music or visual imagery, both of which help to transport you to a more relaxing atmosphere. As you are transported to this relaxing atmosphere, wherever that may be, use whichever breathing that feels most natural to help the intrusive thoughts disappear and a sense of calmness to spread through you.

Sleep meditation can also take the form of a “body scan”. No, it’s doesn’t mean you need to rush out to get a MRI. Rather, you replace the focus on breathing with an awareness of the sensations in your body. Your attention is gradually directed to every part of your part, starting at your head, and ending with your toes. You continue focusing on the sensations in your body until you start to feel “heavy” and fall into sleep.

These are just a few of the ways you can incorporate sleep meditation into your bedtime routine. For more information about sleep meditation and the benefits it holds for you, please contact us. We’re here to help!

To a restful night – Anna

References:

“Meditation for Sleep.” Headspace. Web. 24 Feb. 2015. <https://www.headspace.com/sleep-meditation>.

MARSHALL, STEPHANIE. “Help Me To Sleep | Advices For Getting Better Sleep.” Help Me To Sleep Org. 1 June 2014. Web. 24 Feb. 2015. <http://helpmetosleep.org/food/mindfulness-meditation-techniques-help-sleep/>.

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