Mindful Ways to Improve sleep quality

Meditation and Sleep: How Mindful Practices Improve Sleep Quality

Last Updated on June 25, 2024 by Avia

Sleep is a core pillar of health, happiness, and well-being. Improved sleep quality and a good night’s rest can help you feel energized throughout the day, recover after a hard workout, and achieve a more peaceful mental state. 

However, 1 in 3 Americans report that they do not get enough sleep on a regular basis, and 40% go without adequate rest at least once per month. This is a serious issue, as it means that millions of people are essentially sleepwalking their way through life.

Rather than ignoring sleep deprivation and deficiency, take a proactive approach to improving your sleep by utilizing mindful practices to help you drift off. Mindfulness can help you calm your busy brain and will help you better understand why you are struggling to stay asleep. It can also be particularly powerful if you are dealing with stress-related insomnia and restlessness. 

Meditation and Sleep 

Mindful Ways to Improve sleep quality

If you are new to the idea of mindfulness or meditation, you may be skeptical about its potential to help you get some shut-eye. However, recent research shows that meditation fights insomnia and improves sleep quality. Key findings from researchers include: 

  • Mindfulness appears to be more effective in treating insomnia and sleep disturbances than sleep intervention programs;
  • Engaging in meditation promotes relaxation, which may be at the core of helping raise melatonin levels before sleep;
  • Mindfulness can be a powerful intervention if you are trying to sleep, but cannot drift off.

These findings echo the idea that meditation in the evening when you are trying to relax may be the best way to manage your stress and unplug after a difficult day. These mindfulness sessions should not be lengthy, either. Even a quick gratitude journal or body scan can bring your awareness back to the present moment and help you enjoy all that the evening has to offer. 

Meditation can also help with sleep by teaching you how to relax. While this may sound redundant, many people struggle to properly unwind after a busy day at work. Meditation is shown to: 

  • Reduce your resting heart rate;
  • Empower people to let go of negative thoughts;
  • Encourage slower breathing.

Evidence suggests that guided meditation sessions are effective at forming healthier habits, too. A more mindful living will ensure you go to bed at the same time, are able to create a sleep-friendly environment, and counteract the sympathetic “fight or flight” system.  

Light Control 

Embracing mindfulness and meditation may help you identify the root cause of your sleep disturbances, too. For example, while journaling, you might note down your observations of the environment around you and suddenly notice that light is disrupting your ability to drift off. This may be due to a prevalence of artificial light which causes sleep issues like:

  • Disruption to your circadian rhythm; 
  • Poor melatonin release before bed;
  • Sleep cycle disturbances due to light.

Based on these insights, you can start making changes to your environment that bolster your meditation routine and help you get off to sleep on time. For example, you may choose to keep phones out of the bedroom and should opt for warm-toned lighting and dimmers over LED lights. This brings greater intention to your sleep habits and helps you get better rest. 

Preparing for Bed

Meditation before bed can help you build a mindful routine that works for you. However, you can not expect body scans and deep breathing to suddenly cure your sleep disruption. Instead, consider making design changes in your quest for rest, including: 

  • Repaint your room in a soothing color;
  • Set your temperature to between 60 – 72 degrees Fahrenheit;
  • Declutter and clean before you crawl into bed;
  • Upgrade your pillows, mattress, and comforter. 

You can also make changes to your routine. For example, if you are lucky enough to have a hot tub, you might want to consider using it before bed to relax. Taking a dip in the tub can boost your health and alleviate muscle pain, joint soreness, and anxiety. A relaxing soak will set you up well for a restful night, too, especially if you don’t use your phone while relaxing in the hot tub.  

Meditation Techniques 

Mindful Ways to Improve sleep quality

If you want to give meditation a chance, but do not know where to start, consider starting with sleep-friendly meditation techniques. These techniques have been developed over decades and are based on ancient methods of relaxation and restfulness. They include: 

  • Guided meditation (consider Calm, Mindful, and Headspace); 
  • Qigong or Tai Chi; 
  • Yoga Nidra;
  • Positive mantra meditation; 
  • Vipassana meditation.

These techniques induce a sleep-like state by calming your stress pathways and improving your mental outlook. Some movement-based techniques may help you better manage pain, too. This can be transformative if you are used to achy knees keeping you up all night. Just be sure to speak to a medical professional if your sleep problems persist, as they may be able to prescribe medication or therapy to help you get a better night’s rest. 

Some practices can be particularly helpful if you are dealing with trauma, conflict, or addiction. While you should always work with a mental health professional when facing these issues, you may find that vipassana empowers you to take control over the thought patterns keeping you up at night. Vipassana — which focuses on improving the mind-body connection via breathing — can help you become more compassionate, too. This can boost your self-esteem and help you overcome the issues that are preventing you from getting high-quality shut-eye. 

Conclusion

Sleep is a sore subject for millions of Americans. However, you can take control of your sleep schedule and improve the quality of your shut-eye by engaging in meditation and mindfulness techniques designed to improve your sleep quality. Get the ball rolling with simple meditative practices like journaling and mantra-like meditations. 

These will help control your stress response and drift into a more restful mindset. You can also consider making mindful changes to your routine, as a quick dip in the tub can ease joint pain and help you feel calmer when you crawl into bed at night. 

About the AuthorAinsley Lawrence is a writer who loves to talk about good health, balanced life, and better living through technology. She is frequently lost in a good book.

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