Sleep issues are on the rise
When I was a teenager it was much more easy for me to feel better when I had no sleep the other night. Nowadays it is simply unbearable. If I did not have a proper 7.5 or better 8 hours of sleep, I feel cranky and tired. When I had only a few hours of rest and that’s it, I become less than a human as I am so irritable, whiny and other quite nasty things.
When I’ve experienced that severe sleep deprivation the last time, I did not abandon my usual morning meditation ritual. Thankfully, this experience was pleasant, even though it was still very hard to concentrate. Yet when I’ve finished, I felt much better. I was more centred, composed and ready to react in a non-violent way towards myself or others. So here is your tip number one – to get on with your meditation practice even though it might be the case of making a much greater effort at the start. Your synergy of mind-body will thank you for that and you will feel better.
Though the main thing is not to get to the point of sleep deprivation, don’t you think?
First of all, we already know about some quick and easy tools on how to prevent bad sleep. We should stay away from blue light. Say no to the LCD screen on tablets, phones and laptops – it suppresses melatonin production. Stay cool – melatonin cools the body by several degrees. Do not overheat your bedroom. Avoid alcohol. For many people, these simple actions would be life-changing. Yet what about those millions of people who cannot get asleep because of internal rumination and worrying?
Meditation for sleep is a proven tool on how to get a night of better sleep and relax into it.
Why meditation is great for sleep?
Prolonged exposure to stress hormones (especially cortisol) destroys healthy muscles, bones, cells, and weakens the immune system. Awareness is important because the unconscious stress can lead to poor sleep, indigestion, chronic head and backaches, heart attacks. When our health deteriorates, we become more fearful and the situation becomes a vicious circle (taken from“Practical Zen” by Julian Daizan Skinner with Sarah Blades)
Ahimsa Meditation would like to serve everyone who is on the journey to eradicate the war within. Albert Tobler and Susann Hermann explained this “war within” as our difficulties, doubts, irritation, frustrations, distractions. They have stated in their book “The rough guide to mindfulness” that around one in four adults suffers from nocturnal rumination. This means there are so many of us who are not being able to sleep due to worrying. Sleep disorder must be one of the most prevalent endemic diseases of the 21st century. More and more of us find it difficult to switch off.
Meditation is able to help us cultivate our mind and become emotionally stronger and more stable. This means we can cope with difficulties, stress factors, frustration and just that enormous stress on a daily basis much better.
Meditation for sleep
Let’s outline some very straightforward steps on how you can start meditating yourself to sleep.
- Get yourself ready in bed, preferably lie on your back with your arms on the sides. Do all need preparations in advance, so you can do your 10-15 minute meditation and almost immediately go to sleep without any need to stand up and do some chores.
- Take a few really deep breaths. You can place your palms on your belly and see how deep breathing makes them go up and down, slowly but deeply. It should make you feel relaxed very quickly.
- Close your eyes and start paying attention to sounds, smells and breathing. You are relaxing into a state of awareness but also tranquillity.
- Without making any judgment, make a mental note of how your body feels.
- As with a basic practice, start performing a body scan. Yet with this meditation for sleep practice, you are going to make it a centre stage. Begin from a very top of your head and very slowly go down by paying attention to the smallest parts of your body. You are just being attentive to all the little details you are never so curious about during the day.
- If it helps to sustain this body scan, try a visualization technique where you imagine yourself covering your body with a very healthy ointment. You simply visualize applying it on your ears, lips, shoulders, nails and so on. This is completely optional, you can opt for a more basic mental scan. See what will work better for you.
- You are not doing it just to finish with your toes and stop. You can then go up and see how every little piece of you relaxes into bed, how your arms become just a bit heavier, how your chest relaxes and you feel a lot of calm and relaxation.
- Continue very slowly until you feel you are ready to drip off. Just observe your meditation, your breathing and your body. Let it simply flow.
Enjoy your sleep.
Still not working: are there other meditation techniques for sleep?
Add concentration on breathing part. If you feel that your body scan isn’t working for you today, simply start focusing and counting your breathing. The monotony of the process and a very simple flow will calm you and aid your sleep. See our basic meditation practice to guide you on how to concentrate on your breathing.
Try Metta or Loving-Kindness practice. It has been also proven to further relax our consciousness that everything will be alright (it is as it is, right?). You can try and incorporate this practice too to help with your sleep. Additional kindness and compassion to yourself and others is just that bit that will make a lot of difference. See our recommendations on how to practice loving-kindness meditation here.
We wish you to have a great sleep today. Continue with your meditation practice, develop it and have better sleep every day.