Your state of mind can negatively impact the quality and quantity of sleep you get. Many people practise meditation as a way of aiding sleep.
Meditation helps you to release yourself from worrying or racing thoughts, and has also been shown to aid anxiety, depression and stress when practised regularly. It has also been shown to increase sleep time, improve sleep quality, and make it easier to fall (and stay) asleep.
Meditation induces calmness and relaxation and consists of four key elements:
- A quiet place with few distractions
- A comfortable posture (sitting or lying down)
- A focus of attention (e.g. on your breath, your senses, images)
- An open attitude (e.g. letting distractions or thoughts come and go without judging them).
Meditation creates physiological changes that are similar to those that happen in your body during the early phases of sleep such as:
- Reducing blood pressure
- Reducing heart and breathing rate
- Increasing melatonin levels
- Reducing cortisol levels
How to meditate: Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down, close your eyes, breathe slowly and deeply. Start focusing your attention on your breath and if your mind starts to wander, simple bring your focus of attention back to your breathing. Meditation can start with as little as one minute, and with time, can be increased to longer sessions, ideally 20 minutes.
Meditation is not a miracle cure, but there is certainly plenty of evidence to show that it may do some good for those who practice it regularly.