Sleep is an essential component of life: we need sleep to function, to feel well-rested, and to establish separation between our days. But, while sleep is important, it is not always easy to achieve a good night’s rest. In fact, millions of Americans struggle with sleep deprivation. Before going to bed, people often run through their mental “to-do lists,” which adds an added layer of stress that causes one to ponder late into the night. To help remedy insomnia troubles, meditation is an important tool to help facilitate a good night’s sleep.
Science research has determined that there are many benefits to practicing meditation as a way to prepare for sleep. The primary scientific findings have concluded that meditation improves stress and aids the immune system. As a follow up to this research, further studies have revealed that mindfulness is considered an “integrative health approach,” meaning that it is now regularly incorporated into healthcare-related efforts. As an integrative health approach, mindfulness serves as an aid to reduce insomnia symptoms, improving the body’s ability to sleep restfully.
Routine engagement with mindfulness has proven to reduce insomnia, depression, and fatigue. Mindfulness and meditation focus on achieving a better sleep, leaving you feeling relaxed and rested. While many people assume that sleeping more hours is what defines a proper sleep, studies show that the quality, not necessarily the quantity, of sleep creates healthier and more peaceful sleepers. Sleep-related meditation uses breathing as a means to channel your thoughts to focus on the present, rather than remaining consumed with worries about the past or the future. This allows us to work towards a more restful sleep, as we can turn off our internal noises and work towards a restful slumber. Here are a few tips for breathing practices to help prepare you for sleep:
Start by taking 5 deep breaths, inhaling through the nose and exhaling slowly out your mouth. As you inhale, focus on the feeling of the air filling your lungs. Then, when air has taken up all space, slowly exhale and gradually release the oxygen out your mouth. Releasing this air can be seen as releasing your thoughts and feelings from the day, removing them from your body. Allow the slow exhale to be meaningful and restorative for you. This process can be repeated as many times as you’d like, as sleep is a personal process that requires varying degrees of preparation. Begin incorporating these breathing practices at nighttime, for a calmer, more energized You!
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