I can't get no sleep
Listening to this song you probably wouldn't get any sleep. Hopefully you've heard of the Faithless song or otherwise you think my grammar has gone off the boil!
25% of the UK population suffer with a sleep problem
I'm going to tell you how meditation can help improve your sleep patterns. If you're not getting enough sleep it's a serious business. It's something that you can take for granted if it's not a problem for you. Even if it's not a common occurrence for you I bet you've had one of those nights when you've just not been able to drop off or stay asleep. Then the effects tip over into the next day affecting your work and your relationships. You feel as though you've got out of the wrong side of the bed. You feel dreadful and you just can't function properly.
Sleep Hygiene- 6 tips for getting it right
Sleep hygiene (and I'm not talking about having a wash before you go to bed!) is one of the first steps to take for a better and more restful nights sleep. Here are 6 things to think about to look after your sleep hygiene:
Avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine ideally six hours before you go to bed. Alcohol can make you feel like you sleep deeper, but will act as a stimulant and will wake you later in the night.
Make sure your room is the right environment for sleep. Have blackout curtains, keep your room clutter free, try an eye mask. Keep the room at an even temperature.
Maintain a regular sleep routine, going to bed and getting up at the same time.
If you're going to exercise, try and do it at least three hours before you go to sleep.
Natural lights keeps your body on a healthy sleep-wake cycle so aim to get outside in daylight.
Keep technology out of the bedroom. TV's, computers and consoles.
How does Meditation help you sleep?
So now you're all hygienic, how is meditation going to help. We live such busy lives that our minds end up filled with 'stuff' going round and round. You know the feeling when there just isn't anymore room in there. And there is that one thought that is like a broken record on repeat. Something you should have done or wish you hadn't, for some reason it's exaggerated when you go to sleep. Often known as the monkey mind, it won't leave you alone. Meditation is going to calm your mind down, giving you the space to make the choices about what your mind is up to. What a lovely thought! Then its going to help you to reduce stress and produce more melatonin, which is essential for keeping up good sleep patterns. If you meditate or practise mindfulness in the day then you are more likely to have better sleep patterns or you can even set aside 10-20 minutes before you go to sleep. Make it part of your bedtime routine, like brushing your teeth or putting on your pj's.
Meditation techniques to help you sleep
Here are a few meditation techniques, which can help you get off to sleep and wake up with a spring in your step:
Recite a mantra to yourself repeatedly until you fall asleep. Choose relaxing words such as 'peace', 'calm', relax or 'let go', which will help you to release all the thoughts that are swimming around in your head.
Simply focus on your breath, as it enters and leaves your body. Gently noticing where it enters and leaves. Inhaling and exhaling. Just that.
4-7-8 technique, Exhale deeply out for your mouth for one count. Close your mouth and inhale for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of 7. Exhale completely through the mouth for a count of 8. Repeat four times.
Body scan meditation. Focus on each part of your body at a time starting with the top of your head and releasing any tension. Moving down to face, neck, shoulders, arms, finger tips, chest, abdomen, pelvis area, legs, down to the tips of the toes. And back up if you need to!
Listen to a guided meditation or some relaxing music or sounds, whilst you are going to sleep.
"Sleep is the best meditation" Dalai Lama
Read my blog on Meditation and Anxiety