There is no denying that the mind’s tendency to get caught up in thoughts peaks at bedtime when we are the stillest. Sooner or later this train of thoughts is sometimes the culprit that leads to restlessness and in turn, the inability to fall asleep. We live in fast-paced worlds that are defined by long work hours, fast food addictions, and caffeine overdoses -all of which prevent us from obtaining the luxury of a good night’s sleep.
What Meditation Does to your Body
First off, it is important to note what qualifies as meditation. A specific, guided experience performed to aid natural sleep is probably what a dictionary would pass off as meditating. If we are talking science, meditation encourages slow breathing, this, in turn, ignites the parasympathetic nervous system which helps lower your heart rate. This is the most basic thing that happens to your body when you meditate.
What else happens?
Besides dropping your heart rate, meditating for even a couple of minutes in a day has shown to:
1. Increase melatonin – the sleep hormone
2. Increase serotonin – the happy hormone
3. Decrease in blood pressure
4. Activate those parts of your brain that control sleep
Your body tends to experience similar changes during a meditative practice like it does in the early stages of sleep.
How to use meditation to sleep better
Different people use meditation as a daily practice to improve various aspects of their lives. Mindfulness meditation is one such technique that evokes a sort of relaxation response in your body – in simple terms, this is a psychological shift in your body that is the opposite of a stress response. For most people suffering from problems related to sleep, stress happens to be a victor cause. Which means mindfulness meditation could fix this.
How to practice mindfulness meditation?
The meditation technique primarily involves focusing on your breathing while carefully bringing your attention to the present without floating in the past or future. It assists with breaking that train of thoughts to evoke the relaxation response.
Ideally, mindfulness should be practiced for about 20-30 minutes during the day to create a reflex that helps bring forth that sense of relaxation more easily. That way, your mind is wired to evoke the relaxation response when you need it at night.
Steps to Practice Mindfulness Meditation:
1: Select a Calming Focus: Focus on something that has a calming effect on your mind and body. Your breath, a simple sound like “Om”, a short prayer, a positive word such as peace, or even a phrase like “breathing in calm, breathing out tension”; “I am relaxed”, can help set off the practice. If you choose a sound, chant it aloud or silently as you inhale and exhale.
2: Let go and relax: Do not worry about how good you’re doing. When you notice your mind wandering, simply take a deep breath in or chant to yourself “thinking, thinking” and slowly return your attention to your chosen focus.
Mindfulness meditation helps you focus on the now, “The present”
This is what makes it so great for your mind to become aware that it is time to sleep.
It grabs a lingering mind to silence the gazillion thoughts going on inside it and gently guides it to the ones you want to welcome.