Secrets To Meditation And Sleep
If you’ve ever had any problems falling asleep, or staying asleep, then this might help. It’s no secret that practicing meditation has numerous health benefits, one of which includes getting a good nights sleep.
How Does Meditation Help You Sleep?
I know that I used to suffer from insomnia in the past and it was one the most challenging times in my life. From tossing and turning in bed for 2 to 3 hours every night, to waking up after just a few hours and not being able to fall back asleep again, it was a living hell.
That was until I came across meditation. Funnily enough I didn’t start out meditating to help with my sleep disorder, it was something I came across as I started to get interested in self-development. I found it quite fascinating because it really helped me to quiet my mind and find a place of peace within myself – even if it was just for a few minutes.
It’s not so much that meditation directly helps to fix your sleep disorders. It can be part of the solution but as I discovered there’s a much wider approach needed before your sleep patterns come back into balance.
What meditation does do for you though is that it gives you a convenient, easy-to-use tool, that at the very least will help calm you down if you’re sleep deprived, and at the most will help slow down your brainwaves so that your body can start preparing for sleep.
Sleep Meditation Techniques
One of the biggest things I learned about changing my sleep patterns was that I needed to focus on both my inner and outer environments. Yes, it is important to slow the mind down, let go of worry, and stop obsessing over things in your head when you go to bed.
It’s also just as important to pay attention to what you eat or drink before you go to bed, what time you go to bed, what activities you do before bed, and how conducive your environment is to sleep. There’s no fixed rule for these things but a little common sense goes a long way.
I discovered that for me to fall asleep easily I needed to have finished eating and drinking at least 2 hours before bed, to not read or watch TV at least an hour before bed, and be in bed by 10pm at the latest. These were the optimal conditions for me to be physically prepared for sleep.
Then, when I get into bed I would spend 20 to 30 minutes doing a progressive muscle relaxation meditation technique to help my body completely let go of any stress or tension that it might be hanging onto from the day.
Without letting go of tension from the body before we try and go to sleep, the mind stays restless because it is feeding off the energy of the tension in our body. Once I understood this, then it made perfect sense to me that I needed to totally relax my body to help my mind quiet down to fall asleep.
Progressive muscle relaxation meditation works by relaxing your mind and body by progressively tensing and relaxing muscle groups of the entire body. The focus is to tense each muscle group for about 5 seconds without straining them, and then let go and feel the muscle relax.
Here’s how you do the progressive muscle relaxation meditation:
1. Lay down somewhere comfortable to begin with. If you are doing this meditation before sleep, then lying in your bed is perfectly okay. If you fall asleep while you are doing this meditation, then that is a bonus.
2. Take 3 slow, deep breaths into your lower belly to help you settle the mind and prepare for the meditation.
3. Curl your toes under tensing your feet. Hold for about 5 seconds, release. Then pause for 10 seconds.
4. Now flex your feet, pulling your toes towards you and feeling the tension in your calves. Hold for about 5 seconds, and relax, feel the weight of your legs sinking down. Then pause for 10 seconds.
5. Tighten your thighs by pressing your knees together, as if you were holding a penny between them. Hold for about 5 seconds…and release. Then pause for 10 seconds.
6. Then keep working your way up through your buttocks, lower back and stomach, chest and upper back, shoulders, hands, forearms, biceps and triceps, then your neck, and face muscles (scrunch up your face for 5 seconds). All the while feeling every part of you body sinking down as you pause for 10 seconds between each body part.
Once you have completed tensing and relaxing every part of your body, do a quick body scan to see if there is any body parts that still feel a little tense. If they do, then go through the same process with them one more time. Now, let go completely and feel your entire body sinking into the bed and feel yourself drifting away.
By this stage your body should be totally relaxed and ready for a good nights sleep. It’s also wise to not get to caught up in exactly how much sleep you need as that will vary according to how much rest your body needs to recover from the day.
Sometimes this will look like 8 hours a night, and other times, it may look like 5 or 6 hours. Getting a good nights rest is also about tuning into your bodies needs and making sure you are giving it what it needs on a daily basis.
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