Meditation is a powerful and effective solution to insomnia and other sleep disorders. Quality sleep is necessary for your well-being and a healthy life. Millions of people around the world are having trouble in falling asleep or stay asleep all night long. Sleep deprivation has the negative impact not only on our minds but also on our lives. Mindfulness meditation appears to be a safe and sensible health promoting practice to improve sleep quality.
- Sleep, Rest, Peace, and Insomnia
- Human Needs Regarding Sleep
- Insomnia and Meditation
Sleep, Rest, Peace, and Insomnia
Sleep is a natural periodic state of mind and body, in which voluntary muscles are relaxed and consciousness is decreased. It is an important part of our daily routine. Quality sleep – sufficient, and at the right time – is as essential as breathing to survive. A good and complete sleep not only relaxes us, but also aids in returning our body system into the fresh and energetic mode.
Rest and Peace are among the key features that shape up a good sleep into existence. Rest is the ceasing of body movement in order to feel relax and Peace is the absence of mental stress or anxiety. Peace of mind brings the sense of happiness and freedom necessary for improving quality of life.
Insomnia is sleeplessness. Lack of quality sleep at night leaves you frustrated in the morning and drains all of your energy throughout the day. The same cycle of sleeplessness, again and again, impede your productivity to participate in daily life challenges, to handle stress, and maintain a positive attitude.
Human Needs Regarding Sleep
Here is a bit about a study conducted by National Sleep Foundation  to study the appropriate duration of sleep for every age. The result of this study shows, sleep for teenagers, 8-10 hours and for adults, 7 to 9 hours is considered to be appropriate. This study further advocates that quality sleep is necessary for good health and well-being.
Without proper sleep, the brain does not form and maintain pathways that are required to learn and create new memories. And, it is harder to concentrate and respond quickly . Another study shows how sleep affects almost every part of the body – from the brain, heart, lungs – and our metabolism, disease resilience and mood . A good sleep refreshes our mind, boosts positive thoughts and encourages an optimistic attitude in our personality. It is the healer of anxiety and depression.
Insomnia and Meditation
Insomnia has become a normal experience. Even now, teenagers and adults are complaining about tossing and turning on the bed all night long. Insomnia – the silent killer of our behavior – has either a psychological or medical cause. Millions of people are affecting with sleep disturbance – difficulty in falling asleep or difficult to stay asleep. Possibly, it is one of those states of our mind which shows up in our life, sooner or later. If left untreated, there can be significant negative long-term effects.
Insomnia also leads to impaired memory and relative cognitive abilities in the short-term. And, if sleep-deprivation persists, mood swings and even hallucination may occur. Sleep latency may even result in mental disorders, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
Just look at the results of this article published in 2010, in which 16 studies analyzed provided 27 independent cohort samples. They included 1,382,999 male and female participants (follow-up range 4 to 25 years), and 112,566 deaths. Sleep duration was assessed by questionnaire and outcome shows that short duration of sleep was associated with a greater risk of death . A good sleep is the silent healer of anxiety, depression, and can improve health problems.
Meditation is an inexpensive solution to treat insomnia. It is a powerful and effective approach to put on a relaxed and deep sleep. Meditation is widely studied all over the world to justify its scientific role in the improvement of human health including sleep behavior.
A trial by Oxford Academic, published in 2014, cited mindfulness meditation as a viable treatment option for adult with chronic insomnia and an alternative to traditional treatments for insomnia . They studied mindfulness meditation in 54 adults with chronic insomnia.
Meditation also strengthens willpower and teaches self-discipline to keep you calm and relaxed. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine even supported meditation as a technique that evokes the relaxation response . They allocated 49 middle-aged and older adults into two groups. One group attended a mindfulness awareness program that taught them meditation and other group received sleep education – how to improve sleep. The first group who was practicing meditation had less-insomnia, fatigue and depression as compared to the second group at the end of six sessions. Meditation improves the quality of sleep by breaking the train of your thoughts and increasing focusing power of the brain. The relaxation response that materializes from meditation practice can help ease many stress-related ailments, including depression, pain, and high blood pressure.
When we talk about physiological function related to sleep, then melatonin (Sleep brain – chemical king) comes to the top of the list that plays a vital role in the regulation of sleep. Meditation practices enhance melatonin levels and therefore produces a better quality of sleep. This study was published in PMC in 2012 . It further shows that using meditation at night will acutely increase the melatonin levels in the body and also helps provide a satisfied and quality sleep.
Also, meditation enhances the theta and alpha waves of brain. Alpha waves are related to the relaxation of mind and body. It originates when the brain slows its thinking process and allows calm and peaceful feelings. Theta waves are the waves of visualization, which appears when the brain moves from the planning and active state to the visualization state – deep down to the awareness. These findings are presented in the study published by The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine performed by NTNU. They further demonstrated that electrical brain waves suggest that mental activity during meditation is wakeful and relaxed. These alpha and theta waves tend to cancel the anxiety and depression arising due to the beta waves in the brain and mind get relaxed and making a deep sleep.
Meditation is as simple as breathing. It takes only few minutes to connect to yourself and then meditation will do the rest. Remember – meditation doesn’t need any explicit time or place. With guided meditation, just find a comfortable and relaxed position, press play, and follow what the guide says. Your worries are your thoughts, don’t follow them just follow your breath. What happens is that you will disconnect the bridge between your individuality and the worldly woes. It is about practice – not perfection. You are getting it if you focus on your breath, follow what the guide tells you, and try not to let thoughts and sounds distract you.
Meditation is simply the best drug-free strategy to improve quality of sleep. Bedtime meditation boosts deep and comfort sleep. You can perform it while sitting or lying on the bed. It helps you gradually falls into sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. Stay out of your head – meditate!
What other actions you can take to improve quality and duration of sleep
Healthy sleep habits can also provide a synergy effect, when coupled with guided meditation. Healthy sleep habits include the following:
- Daily exercise or physical activities helps to fall asleep without troublesome. A study published by National Sleep Foundation that shows scientific evidence promotes regular physical activity or light exercise as a non-pharmaceutical alternative to improve sleep . Exercise triggers an increase in body temperature, and the post-exercise drop in temperature may promote falling asleep. Exercise may also reduce insomnia by decreasing stimulation, anxiety and depressive symptoms .
- Always sleep at fixed schedule and don’t over-sleep. In this way your internal biological clock will set accordingly. As sleeping times become habitual, our inner clock becomes more active as we get ready for bed.
- Avoid taking short naps in afternoon if you have trouble in sleeping.
- Don’t exceed your total sleeping duration more than 7-9 hours , otherwise it will disturb your natural sleep-wake cycle and may get you sick. Quality sleep is necessary to stay focused throughout the day and it helps to recover wear and tear inside your body. But keep in mind that oversleeping is bad for health and may cause depression and obesity 
- Avoid exposure to light when get sleepy or going for bed. Melatonin (sleep brain – chemical king) secretes in the dark and make you sleepy and calm. Avoid having the television, mobile screens, or table lamps turned on when it is time to sleep.
- The environment of your bedroom matters a lot. Too much mess around your bed and harsh colors of the walls and curtains may also the reason for disturbance. Design your sleep environment with the things or stuffs that relax and gratify you. Temperature should be moderate not too much cool or warm. Avoid noises, listening from e-devices, open windows – as they may distract your need for sleep
- Be smart about your eating pattern. Avoid eating close to your bedtime. Avoid eating big, oily and spicy meals. Try not to use caffeine, nicotine and alcohols before bed. These stimulants may disturb your sleep. A study shows that primary symptoms of insomnia, such as increased sleep latency, sleep fragmentation, and decreased slow wave sleep with reduced sleep efficiency and increased daytime sleepiness, were observed after nicotine consumption 
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