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Do you know those nights where you’d count sheep to fall asleep?
This simple exercise is actually meditating. When people think that meditation is hard, ask them if they have ever counted sheep while trying to fall asleep.
Getting good quality sleep is very important for our overall health and well-being.
However, sleep disorders interfere with our lives pretty often, leaving us tired and in a bad shape. It is scientifically proven that practicing meditation has real and considerable benefits: it reduces stress, improves our response to stressful situations and helps us manage our lives better.
A study conducted by Dr. Herbert Benson, director emeritus of the Harvard-affiliated Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine reveals that the quality of sleep depends on our way to respond to stress.
His study included 49 middle-aged individuals with sleeping problems. Half of the group completed a sleep meditation program taught once a week for six weeks. The other half participated to sleep education classes that taught them how to improve their sleep.
At the end of the six sessions, the people in the sleep meditation program had less insomnia, fatigue and depression.
“Mindfulness meditation is just one of a smorgasbord of techniques that evoke the relaxation response,” says Dr. Benson.
Relaxation is key to better sleep, and meditation is a way to teach your mind and body how to relax.
Sleep meditation for calm and relaxing nights
Going to sleep with a heavy mind can affect the night rest you need so much. If your sleep is of low quality and you can never get a good rest, you might consider meditation as a very helpful tool.
The purpose of meditation is not to make you fall asleep. On the contrary, it helps focus and gain awareness. Meditating in the morning and during day-time will help you sleep better because it will reduce stress and you will learn how to calm your monkey mind. Meditating constantly will create these new paths in your brain so when you go to bed you will be able to relax and let go of things more easily instead of thinking about what happened during the day or what will happen tomorrow.
Breathing is part of the meditation ritual and it is so important. Focusing on your breath is part of the meditation process. Being constant with your meditation ritual will show up at night, before sleep: you will be in control of your state. Usually, we cannot sleep because of wandering thoughts and stress. Meditation chases stress away and teaches you how to take control of your negative thoughts. There is one specific breathing technique that helped me sleep: inhale slowly through your nose to the count of 4, hold your breath to the count of 4, and exhale slowly to the count of 4 – repeat 4 times. It really is a magical breathing technique, but you have to keep your focus on your breath, relax your body, and breathe the air into your relaxed abdomen.
Meditation is not about rushing or forcing. You don’t have to force meditation and you don’t have to rush your sleep. If you can’t sleep, don’t become alarmed. Just notice what is causing the sleeping trouble. If you have too many wandering thoughts, try to relax and observe them. Don’t judge your thoughts, just observe them, not for too long, and then let it go.
Focus on the positive
Most of our disturbing thoughts are negative. Chasing negative thoughts away is difficult because we have already created this habit of thinking negatively. With meditation you will be able to manage your negative thoughts that don’t let you have a good sleep. While you meditate focus on a place you love, or think of something beautiful. Focusing on the positive doesn’t mean you have to be unrealistic. It just involves replacing negative thoughts with pleasant ones: think of nice sensations, beautiful places, inspiring people.
The quality of sleep is important for our health. Meditation is one of the best ways to improve your sleep by reducing stress, managing negative thoughts and calming a monkey mind.
If you want to add some more tools to help, consider these 3 simple things you can do to improve your sleep.
Herbal tea is powerful and with immediate results. Lavender, Pepper Mint and Lemon Balm are natural remedies known for their calming effects. Drink a cup of tea before sleep; notice what herb might help you.
Avoid watching TV or using the computer/tablet/phone before sleep. The bright light emitted by the screens of our electronics disturbs the production of the sleep hormone.
Don’t stay up late and keep an eye on the time you go to sleep; going to sleep at the same hour each night will improve your sleep